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Beyond the Starline: Book One in the Dark Sea Trilogy (Volume 1) Paperback – February 14, 2016
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The Amazon Book Review
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About the Author
Austin worked for two decades in children’s theater and television, in the UK and Europe, before becoming a full time writer. Beyond the Starline, the first volume of his exciting Middle Grade/YA steampunk trilogy, The Dark Sea, has been highly praised. Austin divides his time between homes in Northumberland, England and Tuscany, Italy. You can find him locked in his laboratory of words dreaming up the next adventure, but it's probably easier to chat to him on Twitter. His handle is @AGHackney Fiction Genres: Adventure, Science Fiction, Steampunk, Fantasy, Middle Grade, Young Adult, Children's Books.
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Top customer reviews
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This coming of age story utilizes humor, action and beautifully written prose to whisk the reader away to another world in a fresh and original narrative. A great read for folks of any age. This universe has been meticulously crafted and full immersion takes place effortlessly. You can feel the machinery vibrating in the walls, taste the morning fog hanging over Lundoon. This visceral journey was one well worth taking and I highly recommend it to anyone who craves adventure and mystery or has ever looked up at the stars and imagined sailing the cosmos to distant worlds.
By Austin Hackney
A middle-grade steampunk adventure extraordinaire! What more could you ask for?
BEYOND THE STARLINE is the first book in a steampunk adventure trilogy targeted at a middle-grade audience. It is a fast-paced, adrenaline-rich mystery-adventure novel; one filled with a cast of vivid, three-dimensional characters, and a plot that will keep you reading long after you had planned to take a break to walk the dog!
Harriet Howland is our protagonist; a plucky young heroine who very suddenly finds herself thrown into the dodgy, fascinating, pseudo-Victorian city of Lundoon—a place filled with pirates, air balloons, a charming French-speaking monkey, sketchy characters, narrow escapes and near-misses. You will feel the grit on your tongue; your eyes will itch from the smog, and you will be rooting for Harriet right from Chapter One. She is a wonderfully authentic character: spunky, courageous and independent, yet still vulnerable and in some ways, very much a child.
Hackney is a very talented writer and a brilliant storyteller. There is a delightful cadence to his writing and his capacity for authentic dialogue is spot on. Read, for example, the following:
Harriet stood up. “No blinking way,” she said, flushing. “Betray me dad? I ain’t doing that. And remember them pirates killed me mum, too. Twice. Just hand it over? That ain’t no option, Professor!”
(I heard a thick Cockney accent running throughout this novel. In fact, I found myself craving a nice meat pie with mash half-way through.)
But don’t be fooled. Heart-racing adventure aside, Beyond the Starline is also a novel about real friendship and the tenacious nature of the human spirit.
I have not read a lot of middle-grade fiction in this genre, but I would say that BEYOND THE STARLINE will soon be right up alongside Canadian author, Kenneth Oppel’s bestselling steampunk MG novel, Airborn. Like Airborn, BEYOND THE STARLINE features a fast-paced plot, richly developed characters, a couple of twisty bits, and ultimately leaves the reader begging for more.
I’m thrilled to know Mr. Hackney is releasing two more books in this series. I, for one, will be first in line.
(I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.)
Mr Hackney is truly a master story teller. He also happens to be a darn good writer too.
I never expected to enjoy this middle grade book as much as I did. The fast moving story twists and turns its way through a richly described landscape that sparkles and engages all the senses. Everything, from the dirt and grime of Lundoon to the opulence of the Watson & Poliakoff starship is described in dazzling, but still economic, detail. Yet the story never rushes.
As you can tell, I thoroughly enjoyed this tale. Harriet the girl from Lundoon with a cockney accent and Sibelius the speaking sky monkey with his thick French tones. These main characters stand out from the crowd of usual middle grade heroes. They are fully formed, many faceted, and have that rarest of fictional character values, depth. Mr Hackney has put a lot of work and thought into these characters. But even that isn’t the best bit.
The magic really happens when Harriet and Sibelius interact, she with her anxious earnestness and he with his, relaxed bonhomie. In a film you would say they have ‘chemistry.’ I could listen to these two chatting for hours.
Well done Mr Hackney, a sparkling middle grade adventure novel that will be enjoyed by children and adults alike.
I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion
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