A Word, A Book Challenge, Day 9: Fall
The Scorpio Races ~ Maggie Stiefvater
I interpreted “fall” as “autumn” so here’s one of my favorite books that happens to take place in the fall.
Legend. Prodigy. Champion.
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
The launch of a middle grade fantasy trilogy set in an alternate 1870s America, where electricity is a dangerous and forbidden science, Native Americans and Yankees live side-by-side as a United Nations, and eldritch evil lurks in the shadows beyond the gaslights…
Young Archie Dent knows there really are monster in the world. His parents are members of the Septemberist Society, whose job it is to protect humanity from hideous giants called the Mangleborn. Trapped in underground prisons for a thousand years, the giant monsters have been all but forgotten — but now they are rising again as the steam-driven America of 1875 rediscovers electricity, the lifeblood of the Mangleborn.
When his parents and the rest of The Septemberists are brainwashed by one of the evil creatures, Archie must assemble a team of seven young heroes to save the world.
A thoroughly enjoyable read.
It is the first book in a new fantasy series, so there is a lot of world building and introduction of characters and a lack of focus on the plot. However, it still manages to be entertaining and engaging.
The characters were all very interesting. They each had specific qualities about them that made them an archetype for a member of the league of seven, the secret protectors against the Mangleborn creatures that threaten humanity. Despite that, they were still three-dimensional characters, with quirks and flaws that made them stand out as their own person. Archie, Hachi and Fergus are as different as they could be from each other, but they come together as a team and form a beautiful friendship.
It was extremely refreshing to read about diverse characters in a middle-grade fantasy. A lot of the characters our trio come across and interact with are Native Americans from different tribes. One of the main characters, Hachi, is a Native American young girl with her own backstory and character arc that doesn’t use her culture as a character device.
The world building and the plot are both very original. While the book does use certain common tropes to advance the plot, it doesn’t feel forced or a generic children’s fantasy story. All of the different fantasy, steampunk and adventure elements were used in interesting ways that made the novel stand out on its own.
I specially liked the use of historical figures related to electricity in the story. They were ridiculous most of the time, but it made the book so much funnier. Thomas Edinson in particular, has a big role in the story that I really liked.
There were some plot holes. The 19th century setting wasn’t all that relevant. The fact that it was 1870s America wasn’t used in the story in any way. The characters felt very modern. There was even a reference to computers at one point. These are just minor nuances, and they don’t take too much away from the story. But, there are things that could be improved upon. It wasn’t a perfect novel.
It’s an impressing beginning for a new middle grade trilogy. I’m excited for the remaining members of the league of seven to be introduced in the next book, and how that’s going to affect the dynamics between the trio. I’m hoping for more adventures and crazy shenanigans.
Recommended for fans of the Percy Jackson series and fantasy middle-grade fiction.
"… and to you, if you have stuck with Harry until the very end."
Here’s to book seven. Here’s to the years of anticipation before it and the years of discussion in its wake. Here’s to the boy who lived and how he changed everything.
And here’s to you, if you know that “the very end” isn’t happening anytime soon.