Agatha H and the Airship City is an illustrated comic made into a novel. The story has a very anime feel. Think Full Metal Alchemist meets The Last Exile. Most surprising is the minimal amount of true action that takes place in what should be an action-adventure. Rather, the story devotes a lot of attention to the development of the characters and the world in which they live.
The dynamic between nations is a little difficult to follow. Agatha starts out in a ground-based city that is in some way subject to the Baron superior city-state. She is then brought to the airship city, where she remains for the rest of the story.
Along with general conflict between nations, there is a constant threat from the air of bug-like invaders; a very Enders Game-like dynamic. These bugs are an interesting element that seems to get buried for the majority of the novel.
Agatha H is what is known as a “Spark”, a person who has a royal lineage with mad scientist-like abilities. This is similar to the Clockworkers in Steven Harper’s The Doomsday Vault (2011). The story follows Agatha as she and others come to discover her powers of scientific creation. Her powers to make scientific things are both a blessing and a curse. She is also discovered to be the descendant of famous Sparks, the Brothers, who are heroes in the steampunk world.
The book has its moments of intrigue. However, fans of the comic may take more joy in the story. It won’t leave others readers with much to ponder once it’s done.
This story is part of the archive of Steampunk Books, Kevin Steele’s website of hackneyed steampunk book reviews and lists (2016-20). Click here for the full archive.