Richard Harland's first book was the comic horror novel The Vicar of Morbing Vyle, which has since become a cult classic. The Eddon and Vail series combines a science fiction world with detective thriller stories. The first novel in the series was The Dark Edge, followed by Taken By Force, then Hidden From View. His Heaven and Earth trilogy began with Ferren and the Angel, followed by Ferren and the White Doctor. His most recent series is the Wolf Kingdom quartet. Harland's novels and short stories have won several Aurealis awards. Ferren and the Angel and Sassycat have been CBC Notable Books.
Sixteen-year-old Col Porpentine is the grandson of the supreme commander of the city-sized ship Worldshaker and has just been named his successor. But Col's rarified world is turned upside down by a girl named Riff, who is a Filthy-Worldshaker's lowest class, confined to the bottom deck as laborers. Col has always been told that Filthies are practically beasts, but Riff is smart, confident, and beautiful. In trying to help her, Col finds himself among the Filthies, who are severely mistreated but otherwise no different from him. Having learned Worldshaker's dark secrets, hidden for generations by his family, he must decide whether to help the Filthies. Harland's steampunk alternate history is filled with oppression, class struggle, and war, showing their devastation on a personal level through Col's privileged eyes. Like the behemoth Worldshaker itself, there's little subtlety in Harland's portrayal of a stuffy, imperial upper class subjugating a noble, abused underclass (complete with a Cockneyesque accent). But the writing is sharp and the story fast-paced, demonstrating that, despite his elite status, Col may be just as trapped as any Filthy. Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
Gr 6-10-Hand-selected by his grandfather, chief advisor to Queen Victoria and supreme commander of the juggernaut Worldshaker, 16-year-old Col Porpentine has a glittering future mapped out for him as his grandfather's successor. But when an escaped Filthy, a 14-year-old girl named Riff, seeks refuge in his cabin, that future is shattered. Col discovers that his privileged life on the Upper Decks is only possible because of the labor performed by the Filthies of the Lower Decks, who work in appalling conditions to keep the large-as-a-city Worldshaker constantly on the move. Through Riff, Col discovers that the Filthies are not the subhuman bestial creatures he was led to believe they were. In fact, they are the descendants of Great Britain's lower classes who attempted revolution during the Napoleonic Wars, were overthrown, became "factory slaves" during mass industrialization, and ended up incarcerated on the juggernaut. Casting aside years of social conditioning and training, Col joins with Riff and the below-deck revolutionaries to change the course of his entire world. Three-dimensional characters, a strongly delineated setting and social hierarchy, and taut suspense make for a satisfying read. Well known in Australia for his speculative fiction, this award-winning author's terrific, fast-paced novel makes an excellent introduction for a new audience of American readers. Harland should find a place on the steampunk shelves right next to Scott Westerfeld and Kenneth Oppel.-Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.