Source: Audiobook Boom- I received this in exchange for an honest review.
Series: The Steamborn Series #1
Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld
Edition: Audiobook, 8 Hours 31 Minutes
Genre: Middle-Grade Sci-Fi/Adventure
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Jacob, a tinker’s apprentice, has never backed down from an adventure, but when a swarm of Deadlands creatures shatters the peace of Ancora, he’ll face trials the likes of which he has never imagined. Forced out of the Lowlands, Jacob and his friends seek shelter behind the towering walls of the Highlands, only to uncover a terrible darkness at the heart of their city.
Steamborn is one of those really need novels that sort of reminds you why you enjoy reading in the first place. I’ve had a rough go of it trying to basically choke down books this year, but Steamborn was utterly effortless with its amazing world building and attention to detail.
This book made me question why I don’t read more steampunk novels because if I could find more like this I would be in heaven all day every day. Steamborn follows Jacob, the young apprentice to their town’s tinker. Jacob is a wonderful protagonist! He’s kind-hearted, brave, and talented; and he has a thirst for knowledge that I really admire. We also have Alice, his best friend, who matches him in intelligence and kindness but really stands on her own in ferocity. Their friendship is amazing. They look out for and rely on each other, and I love that they stick together to fiercely throughout the story.
For a novel that doesn’t hit 300 pages, it has some amazing world building woven into the story, and I think that’s due in part to Asher’s wonderful writing style. He packs in plenty of details to make the story rich and vibrant without ever loading it down to the point of tedium. He tantalizes us with tidbits of information on the world outside of Ancora and builds up the mystery around hidden history and old wars while creating a lovely city filled with gears and insects. Which brings me to his rather cool use of insects! I’m not a fan of bugs in general, though there was a time that I ran wild in the grass and caught all manner of things that would make me go full ninja mode now, but I utterly love the idea of insects being such a huge (figuratively and literally) part of society and their ecosystem. We get everything from terrifying creatures called Widow Makers to knee high Pill Bugs that are kept as pets.
Saskia Maarlevald is one of my favorite narrators and when I see her name on something I know I’ll enjoy listening to it, even if was something as dull and lifeless as a phone book. She has a wonderful reading voice and she’s fantastic as really embodying the characters she’s reading for.
I can honestly say I’m so ready for book two, I’m just deciding if I want to wait for the audio or get the ebook. It’s an inventive, fun and fast paced story that has rekindled my love of reading.