The Court Of the Air

Friday May 01 2009
by Michael

Stephen Hunt's The Court of the Air is a book which I first picked up by accident. It was being offered in a 3 for 2 special at Blackwell's in Sheffield while I was buying books for my flight back to Winnipeg in 2007.

I felt as I first read it that it would be a great book to get for our young person's section.  Now, two years later, it has finally been released in Canada and I made sure that we ordered some for the store.

As with most of the books that we carry in our young person’s section, it is not exclusively a mystery, and defines itself as 'Victorian high adventure'.  What exactly this means I am not sure, but the novel’s fantastic mix of magic and highly advanced steam technologies create the backdrop for what is essentially a political/espionage thriller and an allegory for the Cold War conflicts between Britain and the USSR.

The political commentary and the complicated world that the book is set in makes the first hundred pages a little slow going, and also on occasion slows later parts of the book.  Despite this the story itself, based around two teenage orphans and their special roles in the conflict arising in their world remains enthralling.

While certainly not for all our readers, The Court of the Air would be something that I would recommend to young readers as they move beyond Harry Potter or the Maximum Ride novels.  While the book can be seen as the next stage in reading development, it is also an excellent adventure. I would also recommend the book to parents as they would enjoy the deeper meanings they would find within the story.

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