Reading Level: Middle Grade
Size: 464 pages
Publisher: Clarion Books
Release Date: September 4, 2012
Stand Alone or Series: Sequel to the Boneshaker
Source: From Amazon Vine for Review
Rating: 5/5 stars
I got an advanced reading copy of this book to review through the Amazon Vine program. I absolutely loved Milford’s first book, Boneshaker, and was so excited to read her next book. The Broken Lands doesn’t disappoint, it is supposed to be a prequel to Boneshaker and was an absolutely wonderful read.
This book takes place on Coney Island in the late 1870’s. The main protagonists are a 15 yr old boy named Sam who is a card shark and a similarly aged Chinese girl named Jin who is a fireworks expert. Together along with the Pillars of the City they need to combat Walker and Mr. Bones and save the city from becoming the personal property of a devil-like creature named Jack.
This book was incredibly inventive with lots of colorful characters and fun details about pyrotechnics; I really enjoyed it a ton. This book, like the Boneshaker, is about the power of a crossroads (in this case the Brooklyn Bridge). This book also has a wonderful balance of darkness with humor.
Sam and Jin are both interesting and likable characters. A little romance happens between them and, as a result, this book has more romance than Boneshaker did and is probably aimed more at the YA audience than the middle grade crowd. Both protagonists have undergone incredible hardship in their lives, but rather than have that hinder them they have become stronger and more resourceful because of it.
Surrounding Sam and Jin are a wonderful array of quirky characters. Some of them not quite as human as they first seem and others wield more power than can be imagined.
The villains are also very well done. Walker and Mr. Bones are creepy, viscous, and just the perfect embodiment of evil. The mysterious Jack hovers over the story giving it a sense of urgency.
The plot is very well done, with multiple storylines weaving together to make one complete story. Milford has done some excellent research for this book. As the reader we learn a ton about Coney Island in that era, lots about cards and gambling, and a ton about fireworks. I especially loved reading about Jin and her pyrotechnics; I love the chemistry of creating brilliant colors from burning powders.
I just enjoyed everything about this story so much. I loved the interesting characters, the precise and easy to read writing style, the carefully crafted plot, and all of the fun tidbits you learn about the era and about fireworks themselves.
Overall this was a spectacular book. Fans of Boneshaker will be pleased with this book as well. A perfect read for those who like nostalgic fantasy with a dark tone to it. It’s a little bit paranormal, a little bit historical fantasy, with some wonderful mystery. Highly recommended to fantasy fans everywhere.
This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
– 150+ Books Reading Challenge