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The Broken Lands Hardcover – September 4, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up-This spine-tingling, action-packed, and emotionally powerful prequel to The Boneshaker (Clarion, 2010) can stand on its own and has much to offer discerning readers. Once upon a time, a woodsman was granted three wishes by a beautiful, uncanny woman, but he used them in a selfish, foolish way. So great were his crimes that not even the devil would let him enter into Hell. So Jack roams the world, searching for a place with a powerful crossroads. In 1877, New York City seems the perfect place to make into hell. He has sent his evil emissaries to kill or convert the five pillars of New York: five people charged with protecting the city. Fifteen-year-old orphan and cardsharp Sam Noctiluca is an unlikely hero, but when he befriends Jin, a young Chinese fireworks-maker, they are drawn into the battle. Soon they, and a ragtag cast of heroes, are the only ones who stand between New York and the supernatural forces of evil. While on the surface this is a simple tale of good versus evil, the book is richly fleshed out and overflows with folklore, Chinese alchemy, and historically accurate details. It also beautifully addresses the themes of friendship and loss and the healing power of innocent love. Offermann's delicate black-and-white illustrations contain a sense of innocence that further accentuates the contrast between Sam's group and the frightening evil that threatens the city.-Heather M. Campbell, formerly at Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, COα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

In this prequel of sorts to The Boneshaker (2010), Milford again paints a painstaking portrait of a time (1877) and a place (Coney Island), and she casts the whole affair as a dark fairy tale pitting folk heroes against well-mannered demons happy to engage in, say, a card game with very high stakes. Our not-quite-human villains have decided that New York City would be a fine place to start up a new Hell. But to do it they must kill or turn the “pillars”—a group of five people who guard the true power structure of the city. Heading up the defense is 15-year-old huckster Sam and his new friend (and perhaps more?) Jin, a fireworks expert in a traveling show. Both kids have tortured pasts—Sam lost his parents and Jin was a Chinese “small-foot girl”—but their relationship is a joy, simultaneously stubborn and halting, rambunctious and shy. This is a tad on the long side, though you can’t fault Milford for getting carried away. By and large, this is subject matter left untouched by other YA authors. Grades 5-8. --Daniel Kraus

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Hardcover: 455 pages
  • Publisher: Clarion Books; 1st edition (September 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547739664
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547739663
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #286,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kate is the author of THE BONESHAKER, THE BROKEN LANDS, and GREENGLASS HOUSE (Clarion), as well as their companion novellas THE KAIROS MECHANISM and BLUECROWNE (available at www.clockworkfoundry.com). Forthcoming books include THE LEFT-HANDED FATE (Holt, 2015) and THE RACONTEUR'S COMMONPLACE BOOK. She has also written several plays, a couple of screenplays, and an assortment of scholarly articles on subjects as diverse as self-aware ironmongery and how to make saltwater taffy in a haunted kitchen. She is a contributing writer for the Nagspeake Board of Tourism and Culture at www.nagspeake.com and a passionate shutterbug. Originally from Annapolis, she now splits her time between Brooklyn and the Magothy coast. She has a husband called Nathan, a kid called Griffin, and two dogs called Sprocket and Ed. She drinks way too much coffee.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Pam - mom-ish since 2000 TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Kate Milford is a wonderful writer. I enjoyed her first book tremendously which is why I'm quite cross at the moment with THE BROKEN LANDS.

BONESHAKER, you see, was wonderful. It had a great cast of characters --good and bad-- and it had a well paced story with a decided 'voice' and tone. THE BROKEN LANDS has interesting characters, but a bland tone and little voice. Overall, it felt like a fog of verbiage stood between me and all that went on in the story. Everything seemed overwritten, and much of it not all that crucial to moving the story ahead.

When brings me to the length. I know that long books are all the rage for middle-graders. But personally I grow weary of gratuitous length, and would add that if you are going to have lots of pages for this age group, for heaven's sake fill them action and not descriptions of architecture.

Not a book I'd suggest as a read for guys. Patient, mature readers (more patient than myself) might want to track this one down if they enjoyed BONESHAKER. The concepts are interesting, the characters okay. The story never quite grabbed me, but it's important to remember 'that not all books are for all people'. Some people, after all, don't like Shakespeare.

Pam T~
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bluerooster on December 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved Milford's novel "The Boneshaker" and have bought several copies to give away. Even my mom liked it! This book was a little harder to follow, the characters were not drawn as well, and I felt it was pretty dark for the intended audience (presumably pre-teens to young teens?). Also, the plot just didn't hold together well. The illustrations were just as lovely as those in The Boneshaker, though, and it was nice to get some backstory on Jack and Tom, who are in both books. I'll keep following Milford's work, as I do like her style and overall aesthetic, but this didn't enthrall me like I thought it would (and I just can't give it to my mom--too violent!).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Laurie A. Brown VINE VOICE on August 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is set in an alternate history New York of 1877 and populated with a diverse and appealing cast of characters. It's a fantasy, a battle of good vs. evil, and a coming of age tale. And it's magical. It captured me almost instantly.

A force of evil is coming to New York, and his advance troops- a couple of supernatural beings- are planning on delivering the city to him. But they aren't the only supernatural beings in the city, and when some of them get wind of the plot, a small group forms to stop them. It's a diverse group: people with magical powers, teen aged orphans, and a journalist who actually existed, Ambrose Bierce. The teenagers risk their lives numerous times and have a huge learning curve to develop the skills that will allow them to take on the evil beings, but while they question their ability to do the job (and their sanity for trying it), they persevere. It's a large cast of characters, but the main ones are Sam, a 15 year old card sharp, and Jinn, a young maker of explosives who travels with a fireworks show.

Milford tackles -lightly- some of the social issues of the day that would have affected the characters, like race and class prejudice. Jinn is a Chinese girl, Sam is poor, one character is black and poor, and one half black- but thankfully she has money. Not that that protects her entirely from the nastiness of bigots. There is also the issue of how poor Chinese girls could end up treated when there was no one to protect them, feet bound and used as slaves. These things are treated casually and not much is made of them -it's just how it was then - but it's there. The author has not tried to clean up the world of 1877 and make it look like 2012, and I think that's a very good thing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pop Bop TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Kate Milford's "The Boneshaker", published in 2010, is a marvelous piece of work. The depression era atmosphere, and a compelling heroine with the feel of Scout from "To Kill A Mockingbird", are transformed in "Boneshaker" into a Wandering Jack American folk tale worthy of Ray Bradbury and "Something Wicked This Way Comes". This book, "The Broken Lands" is a prequel, of sorts, with an overlapping secondary character, but set in post-Civil War New York City. It is a dry and workmanlike effort, with none of the heart or magic of its predecessor.

It is way too long and chock full of every piece of research the author ever did. We learn about Chinese fireworks, the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, post-Civil War unrest in New York, the Five-Points neighborhood (made famous in Scorcese's "Gangs of New York"), and dozens of other little factoids. That would be O.K., except most of this is transmitted through dialogue that consists almost entirely of exposition and explanation. Characters spend much of the book describing things to each other, explaining things to each other, or asking and answering questions about what exactly is happening in the book. Every thirty pages or so the story has to come to a complete halt so that someone in a bar, or carriage, or other character meeting, can explain something to the other characters the way a kid would give a student report in class. Needless to say this pretty much kills any dramatic tension or any narrative flow. As for magic, or at least wonder, there is one chapter given over to a single Wandering Jack story that is, first, one of the least interesting of the Jack stories, and second, told in the flattest, driest and least animated fashion possible.
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