Sep 20, 2011: "The Alarna Affair" is part of the Blackfeather series, and if the rest of the series is anything like the first, it should be a reliably enjoyable experience. It’s a fantasy epic set in a world like our own Victorian Era, with trains and steam-power, but also with magic and intrigue.
Jon Gardner, 9, and his brother Tam, 13, are travelling from their home to visit a famed archaelologist, Professor Sheridan. Jon, it seems, is a precocious young genius, while Tam is sent to protect him on the journey.
Protection might be required because not long after meeting the professor they run into two thieves. One, a child, distracts them by stealing Sheridan’s watch, and then the second makes off with his papers.
Even more mysterious, Jon sees a black winged figure fly over the train station, but no one else seems to notice. Later, on the train, he runs into the young pick-pocket and again sees the black wings outside the window.
The pickpocket turns out to be a girl, Kara, and she’s on the run. Her adult partner didn’t show up at the meeting spot—he’s made off with Sheridan’s papers for some mysterious purpose—so she’s on her own and hungry.
The writing is clear and descriptive, and there are plenty of hints for the intrigues that are developing so the pace keeps things interesting. The world has been thoroughly imagined, given that the history, languages and geography are hinted at in such a way as to convey a lot of depth. As the reader gets further into the story, the world continues to become more involving.
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