Note: There is going to be a discussion of what occurs as well as my opinion. That means SPOILERS. You have been warned.
Author: Eoin Colfer
Date published: 2008
Genre: Fantasy, historical fiction
Conor Broekhart has always been obsessed with the thought of flying. His natural aptitude for science and engineering has allowed him to design and construct various aircraft. One day, his tutor (Victor Vigny) is killed then framed for the murder of his king (King Nicholas) by the vicious Hugo Bonvilain. Bonvilain throws Conor in jail, hatching an elaborate plan in which Conor believes himself to be detested while everyone else believes him dead. Conor meets a blind musician-and-spy (Linus Wynter) in which he gains advice from. Throughout the book, Conor develops an alter ego, Conor Finn, to survive the harsh jail conditions. When he does escape his jail, his first plan is to move to America, however is later threatened by the death of his family and first/only love, Princess Isabella Trudeau, at the hands of Bonvilain.
An excellently told story. The plot is well conceived, with incredible detail, including going the extra mile to research the aircraft of the 18th century. Characters are also very well developed, being believable and amusing. His novel contains the characteristic Colfer humour - bitingly ironic and very much enjoyable.
Thanks to his success from Artemis Fowl, Colfer was probably under pressure to create unique characters in a completely different setting. Despite this, Conor holds echoes of Artemis's devious nature and cunning tongue, while Isabella amusingly reminds me of a more sane and sweet Opal Koboi. Bonvilain also reminds me of Kronski (the Executionist from Time Paradox) but then the similarities end there. Most commendable is what some may consider a slow start, but what I perceive as a relevant way to develop the protagonist's character and relationship with Isabella.
In this book, Colfer doesn't hesitate to drop mini bombshells that will have you on the edge of your seat. Cliched-sounding, I know, but there is no other way to describe it. Every occurrence that you dread will happen, though the unexpected do arise from time to time. (*cough*LINUS WYNTER*cough*)
My favourite character, apart from Conor (who sounds devilishly handsome, I must say) would have to be Wynter. (Well, who can resist a musician-spy?) His sound advice and words of encouragement had me connected to his character from the very beginning.
The romance in this novel is also touching. Though a side plot, it captivates the reader's attention without being over the top and catches a wayward longing in the reader.
My one slight disappointment might be Bonvilain. Though his backstory is touched on briefly, there is something about him that feels like an otherworldly villain. Perhaps that's just me with this complaint.
Overall, Colfer writes a well connected, engaging story with great detail and highly developed characters. Though I was not entirely open to reading a story with flight mechanisms at first, his story telling skills pulled me in and did not disappoint. Highly recommended.
In other news:
- Has been shortlisted for the 2009 Carnegie Book Award
- Is being adapted into a movie. The release date is set to be in 2013! It will be directed by Gil Kenan, written by Ann Peacock and distributed by Walt Disney pictures. No-one has been casted yet.
Overall rating: 9/10
I am very much looking forward to Colfer's steampunk novel for young adults, W.A.R.P.! Stay tuned for my next review, a review on an old favourite: Sunshine by Robin McKinley.
Until next time!