Top critical review
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Exciting, but flawed
on 23 August 2009
I reviewed this book as part of the Amazon Vine programme and so hadn't read any previous books by Stephen Hunt. It was apparent from reading the book that there was a significant amount of backstory I wasn't aware of, but this wasn't too detrimental to the overall reading experience. This is a fantasy adventure with strong sci-fi elements, while the setting has clear parallels with various periods of English history, especially Victorian and Cromwellian. The story starts rather conventionally with a poor orphan girl being abused by all around her ... but of course she turns out to be special. We are then rapidly introduced to the beginnings of a vast cast of varied characters, some of whom are well-rounded characters and others not quite so much. The actual story was fairly gripping, as the situation becomes remorselessly worse for our heroes until the final denouement. There is a lot of jumping around from one scene to another, with the author being very keen on cliffhangers at the end of sections and chapters (a bit like Dan Brown's writing style)), most of which are mostly resolved in the space of a couple of lines at the beginning of the next section. Although I found this irritating, the actual writing style was good.
Overall I would give this a cautious recommendation to anyone who enjoys fantasy and sci-fi. Perhaps get it from a library first to see if you like his style. It is suitable for teenagers and adults.