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THE ALARNA AFFAIR

Interesting Start

By Susan Amund, author of Barghest

May 25, 2016: As the first in a series of books, "The Alarna Affair" gives a glimpse of a fascinating mashed-up world of steam and paranormal. The writing is descriptive and well-paced; hints of something larger and more mysterious than two boys on a train appear immediately, encouraging the reader to continue.

I would have liked a bit more reaction from Jon. Upon seeing a winged figure (which is apparently quite fantastical and unbelievable in this world) swoop through a train station, Jon only questions if he saw it. Proof of the flying thing does not lead him to question the adult with him, but only to think that it would be impolite to discuss. Even a second sighting does not inspire him to inquire. Although Jon and Tam both seem particularly mature for their ages, Jon’s reticence would be more believable if there was more inner dialogue for him showing his reasoning for not speaking up.

The mystery overcomes that one small irritation, and I still want to read more. Kara is by far my favorite character, and seems to be more fully developed for the reader than Jon. I recommend "The Alarna Affair" as an interesting introduction to the Blackfeather world.

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THE ALARNA AFFAIR

Young Adventure

By G.S. Williams, author of No Man An Island

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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THE ALARNA AFFAIR

Editor’s First Impression

By Linda Schoales, editor

Jun 28, 2010: The first chapter begins like an old-time YA adventure series. Two brothers are travelling to meet a mysterious professor. The older one is very serious as he remembers his mother’s instructions to look after his younger brother. Both are reacting to the exotic setting in their own way. The site includes some very nice black and white drawings.

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