Pennyroyal is a scoundrel. He has very little interest in anything that goes beyond having a good time (nudge-nudge-wink-wink-say-no-more), grossly exaggerating his exploits for fame and fortune, and saving his hide. In one scene where Pennyroyal discusses America he states it was, “Discovered in the year 1924 by Christopher Columbo, the great explorer and detective.” *snicker*
I appreciated how Reeve was able to expand his world building so organically through Pennyroyal’s books. Through Pennyroyal’s collections of stories, rumors, and folklore Reeve is able to take the story in new directions. Many of Pennyroyal’s “adventures” are proven false, but more are based in some sort of truth. Such as the parasite towns that secretly attach themselves to the bottom of traction cities.
Pennyroyal would have you believe that they kill everyone on board (except, of course, the beautiful young ladies that they sell as slave sacrifices to appease the Gods). In reality, these parasite ships do exist but they are only interested in sneaking around and robbing you of your valuables so that they can take them back to Uncle. Uncle is a mixture of Big Brother and perhaps a bastardization of the 1950’s Father Knows Best TV show where the father could be relied upon for sound advice and the family was idealized and loving. Just a warning though, Uncle does not know best even though he tells you otherwise.
There was plenty of action, but this book had a fair bit of setting up too – introducing us to characters that will play important roles in later books. I didn’t notice as many cultural references, certainly not as many music ones – but it could also be the true that I just whizzed by them because I didn’t recognize them.
Once again I’ve found Hester to really the star of the show here. She is, in a word, awful. A girl ruled and afflicted by her insecurities. A girl who can pretend, but underneath it all she is truly her father’s daughter. A person who would betray a friend. A person who could kill. A person who wouldn’t even feel all that bad after. I think it is very impressive how Reeve can take such an unlikeable character and still have the readers empathize with her situation. Yes, her actions are rather appalling, but at the same time you understand exactly why she does what she does. Tom, on the other hand, is still very sweet, still relatively naïve, and still acts as an anchor of decency that Hester clings to.
Next up: Infernal Devices.
Book Source: Library Copy