royalty-free-writing-clipart-illustration-1146779
This is one of the Hugo finalists in the Best Novel category. It was published by Roc.

In this universe, the Spires provide habitats for humanity in a world where mist shrouds the surface. The economy is controlled by aristocratic houses that operate fleets of airships for shipping. Captain Grimm of the airship Predator works for Spire Albion and is engaged in piracy against Spire Aurora. The Predator is damaged, and Grimm negotiates commission of a vital mission in return for expensive repairs. Meanwhile, Gwendolyn Lancaster of Spire Albion has faced down her mother and left home to take service in the Guard. She and two other young Guard trainees are assigned to the mission, along with an intelligent cat and two odd Etherealists. As the mission becomes more complex and dangerous, they find humanity’s ancient enemy has risen from the depths of the mist.

This is a good set up for a steampunk SF adventure, but it turns out the ships run on mysterious crystals, which means it really leans to fantasy. The plot is well thought out and the world building is adequate. The battle between the airships is a great visual. However, the characters come across as stiff and often annoying. The introduction of the intelligent cats is interesting, but soon they’re annoying, too. This story had good potential, but every time something interesting happens, it gets bogged down in Victorian, straight-laced prudery, or something. There’s just no romance or adventure in it. After the lush violence of the Dresden Files series, it ends up feeling sterile. Like some of the other novel finalists this year, this one runs long and slow, coming in at 640 pages.

Three stars.

Advertisements