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The Engine's Child Paperback – November 25, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This richly complex tale from the author of The Burning Girl deftly encapsulates an entire culture's frictions and fractures in the loyalties of one young woman. Moth seeks to climb out of the Tidal slums where she'd been abandoned without betraying her Tidal friends, her secret mother, her lover, or her bond with the invisible powers of her world. Beneath the surface of a seemingly stable, if compressed, island civilization, connections and tensions link the Society of Doors, an outlaw organization looking to return to the heaven of the past; Lady Vashmarna's scientific idealists seeking to expand limited resources; a ruler clinging to the failing status quo, and the Tidal have-nots coping with an explosive brew of fear, faith, and rumor. Sharp-edged personalities and complicated personal relationship among the characters prevent Phillips's tale from degenerating into allegory. Her lush prose and dark fantasy cityscape will appeal to fans of China Mieville's Perdido Street Station and Sarah Monette's Melusine, but her manipulative, scarred, sexual, unapologetic antiheroine recalls Elizabeth Bear or Melissa Scott. For fantasy collections where those authors circulate. –Library Journal, Meredith Schwartz, New York
“ Open up the new novel by Holly Phillips, 'The Engine's Child', and your reading experience will sweep away any notion of genre or concept.Reading Phillips' novel provides layers of pleasure; the immediacy of her prose and the joy of unpacking her world, the involving skeins of plot and peril and unfolding understanding of her conceptual framework. 'The Engine's Child' suggests that we’ve stepped past the boundaries of genre and into literature that knows no boundaries. Phillips writes with a purity of conviction that replaces the reader's world with her creation. And she tells one hell of a good story in the process. It's not all shadings and subtlety. Blood is spilled as the best-laid plans crash up against the novel's carefully crafted reality.”
- The Agony Column
“Phillips writes dark fantasy mostly with the aura of heroic fantasy, aiming to awe far more than to frighten–and succeeding, awesomely.”
–Booklist (starred review), on Holly Phillips’s In the Palace of Repose
Top Customer Reviews
But this is a prickly book. Both protagonists are unreliable and unkind, and Phillips has an intentionally stilted voice. She plays precise sensory description against conflicted and secretive emotions (set within a number of invented terms and honorifics), and the plot can get buried under that: it's not complex, just difficult to tease out, and as such somewhat underwhelming. This is an easy book to admire and a difficult book to love. As such I can't particularly recommend it, but I wish more writers would do what Phillips does here.
Memorable characters, vividly realized settings, gorgeous prose and fine storytelling make The Engine's Child a compelling read. This book demands a reader's full attention but repays the effort with a rich immersive experience in another world's torments and delights.
It's a rare pleasure to encounter a writer of such vision, intelligence and style. Holly Phillips has carved out her own niche among dark fantasy writers, and I'm looking forward to her next book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I liked the premise, but found the book very hard to follow, and quite frankly, not worth the effort once I did read enough to get the gist of the plot line. Read morePublished on April 8, 2010 by Susannah
Well developed background. Good social/economic caste system developed. Nice mix of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
Strong well developed female main character. Read more
I was not a fan of this novel. I love to read and have tackled many difficult books but found myself unable to get through the Engine's Child. It was incredibly confusing. Read morePublished on April 25, 2009 by Lauren