17 August 2009

Book of the Week (27): "Fever Crumb" by Philip Reeve

Oh, what a happy day to open the first page of a new Mortal Engines instalment, and what a sad day to finish the last. I’m pretty sure that for most people it will be the same day. This long-awaited prequel stands alone, but the experience will be much more rewarding if it is read after the original quartet as many intriguing questions are answered, including some concerning the enigmatic cyborg Shrike. Fever Crumb is a candy box of a novel full of little treats which you just can’t stop nibbling. The description of futuristic London pre Urban Darwinism are full of humour and imagination, and in the character of Fever Crumb herself Reeve has provided his world with another tough cookie (with cream on the inside). Fever is a rarity – a female engineer-in-training, a foundling adopted by Dr Crumb and brought up in the domain of reason and logic within the Guild’s headquarters up in Godshawk’s Head. Then archaeologist Kit Solent asks her to help him with his excavations in the cellar of Nonesuch House, Godshawk’s underground workroom. The long dead Scriven ruler of London was known for his inventions and fascination with old technology and Solent is sure that Fever can help him unlock the secrets that his cellar holds. However, it seems that the house unlocks a suppressed part in Fever’s own brain, and as the story unfolds she unravels the mystery of her origins. She has little time to uncover the facts – the locals are at her heels trying to kill her while the nomads of the North with their traction castles are approaching London fast intending to capture it. Fabulous stuff, and it looks like there will be more – yippee!

Recommended by Noga Applebaum

  • Really you should read the Mortal Engines quartet before Fever Crumb, but if you didn’t, then I’m pretty sure you’ll be picking up the four books very quickly once you finished this one.
  • Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones is a magical fantasy about a down-to-earth heroine and a vain but talented wizard who lives in an ever-shifting castle.
  • Un Lun Dun by China Miéville is another fantasy about an alternative London where two girls fight against a dark cloud with the help of broken umbrellas and a half-breed ghost boy. Weird as it sounds, but fun.

No comments: