Gratz, Alan. The League of Seven
August 19th 2014
E ARC from Netgalley.com
In an alternate 1870s where First Nations people compose a large portion of the country, Archie's parents are librarians for the Septembrists, a group dedicated to making sure that the Mangleborn (giant beetle like evil doers who have been controlled for centuries but are roused by use of electricity). The Mangleborn attack Archie's parents and steal them away, and Archie ends up in the company of one of Edison's assistants who has realized that the inventor is evil and wants to release the menace. With the help of Mr. Rivets (his parents' robot helper), Fergus and Hachi, he assembles a team of seven adventurers who follow the formula for all good Septembrist groups (tinker, etc.) through the ages. Can they manage to control the Mangleborn threat and find out secrets of Archie's past?
Strengths: I really enjoy Gratz's work: The Brooklyn Nine,and Prisoner 3087 were awesome. I appreciate that he thought about all the things that he would have thought were cool in books when he was ten and included those sorts of things in a good introduction to Steam Punk. There are plenty of gross moments in this, plus cool clockwork robots.
Weaknesses: Steam Punk is a hard sell in my library, and I don't like it myself, so this was sort of hard to read for me. My only REAL complaint about this was the short description of "p-mail" or pneumatic mail that was delivered "via a series of tubes called the Inter-Net" (page 101). This reminded me of Once Upon a Marigold, where "p-mail" is "pigeon mail". Just... no. But I will buy a copy of this for my fantasy readers who might like to explore this genre.