As part of an experimental format, I am posting the epigraph and image just before a sort of "capsule" review of the book. The real review will be below the jump. Like it? Hate it? Wish to rant about the sad state of literary affairs in the world? Please tell me in the comments. This blog, as always, is an organic and ever-changing process, and the cooler I can make it, the better off both I and my readers will be.
ALSO: I am going on a longer vacation, so no review next Saturday. I need to calm down so I can concentrate on getting you the best reviews I can, delivered on-schedule and without having to rush and not finish the book all the way. There may also be a renaissance faire involved.
"It is here, with great reluctance, and a full awareness of how a chronicler should report a story without being the story itself, that one of your professors enters the narrative. Surely the tedious whys and wherefores of how he came to find himself in this particular prison at this particular time have no significant relevance to the greater story and shall thus be ignored."
- Professor Philip Foglio
So, to get the basics out of the way, Agatha H. and the Clockwork Princess is the second novelization of Phil and Kaja Foglio's Girl Genius* webcomic series, a series born from a love of pulp, steampunk, comic fiction, and possibly monsters with teeth bigger than their faces. In it, the main character, Agatha Heterodyne survives an airship crash into the terrifying area of an alternate steampunk Transylvania known as "The Wasteland". To get her safely to the city of Mechanicsburg without being eaten by the terrifying monsters or crushed by steam-powered robots, she joins a traveling circus and hopes to have an uneventful time. But soon intrigues and adventure find her, and she is swept up in an adventure involving her lineage, lost princesses, and insane gadgetry.
The book is incredibly well-done, though it suffers from a minor lack of context in the opening pages and occasional typographical errors in the edition I own. The descriptions are fantastically detailed, the sense of humor is frenetic but manages to let the reader catch up, and even the momentary self-insert is played self-deprecatingly for comedy. If you have ever wanted an adventure story that is just straight-out flat-out fun; with engaging characters, a good sense of humor, and a self-aware quality that engages the reader rather than ironically detaching them to poke fun at itself, this is your book. I love it, I thoroughly recommend you should buy it, and then once you've bought it, press it eagerly into your friends' hands with only a meaningful look and the words "read this".
(Complete review after the jump)