When we last left our dynamic duo, Alek and Deryn, they were floating on the airship Leviathan, headed toward Instanbul and the Ottoman empire. Deryn, who is masquerading as a boy, knows pretty much all of Alek’s secrets: he’s a prince, his parents’ death started the war, and he’s on the run. The crew of the Leviathan have a wary peace with Alek and his companions, especially because it’s their Clanker engines that are keeping the Leviathan up.
Deryn has still managed to keep her secret safe, though she’s slowly realizing that Alek means more to her than just a pal. Then again, he’s a barking prince who thinks she’s a boy. It will never work, a thought which, unfortunately, tears her apart. (What is it about Westerfeld’s writing that gets me talking like he writes? Seriously? I’m swearing like a steampunk Darwinist sailor. Barking spiders, indeed!)
When they get to Istanbul, havoc is wreaked. Alek and his companions escape the Leviathan (they’re increasingly afraid that “guests” means “prisoners of war”) and end up falling in with a group of revolutionaries determined to overthrow the shah and end the German influence in their city, at least. Deryn, on a secret mission of her own, ends up in the same place: aiding Alek and his new friends.
Although the book is slow to get started, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve picked up Leviathan (like me), once it does, it delivers everything you’d want from a Westerfeld book. Action, adventure, mystery, romance … and a great imagination. There are some amazing machinery and creatures in this book; things that will have you gaping and scratching your head: where does he come up with this stuff? And, of course, by the end of the book, enough happens that you will be on the edge of your seat, wondering what, possibly, could happen next.
Waiting is always the hardest part.
Rated: Mild for some action sequences and mild swearing.