The Electrical Menagerie, one-of-a-kind robotic roadshow, is bankrupt.
Sylvester Carthage, illusionist and engineer, has the eccentric imagination the Menagerie needs to succeed creatively — but none of the people skills. Fast-talking Arbrook Huxley, meanwhile, has all the savvy the Menagerie needs to succeed commercially — but none of the scruples.
To save their show, Carthage & Huxley risk everything in a royal talent competition, vying for the chance to perform for the Future Celestial Queen. In this stardust-and-spark-powered empire of floating islands and flying trains, a shot at fame and fortune means weathering the glamorous and cutthroat world of critics, high society, and rival magicians —but with real conspiracy lurking beneath tabloid controversy, there’s more at stake in this contest than the prize.
Behind the glittery haze of flash paper and mirrors, every competitor has something to hide… and it’s the lies Carthage & Huxley tell each other that may cost them everything.
The worldbuilding of the Celestial Isles is magnificent, veering away from the expected dirigibles and soot-stained everything in favour of islands floating in an aether sea and sky trains. Reeder includes a whimsical religious thread in which the stars are demi gods hung in the heavens by a greater god. While it’s all different enough to captivate, there’s still an unmistakeable steampunk soul residing in The Electrical Menagerie. Carthage’s electrical creations are a perfect example of this.
Huxley and Carthage have very different priorities and their personalities abrade as often as they complement each other. The electrical butler, Dominic, is a charming secondary character.
Reeder pokes at the spectrum of emotion, eliciting laughter one moment and sadness the next. The prose is lightly sprinkled with wise observations, something I always enjoy when reading.
Giveaway (US only)