Agatha H and the Airship City by Phil and Kaja Foglio

Just finished reading Agatha H and the Airship City which I absolutely loved.  Now, before I start I will confess that I’ve not read the webcomics that this book is based on so my opinion isn’t based on any sort of comparison in that respect.  But I thought this was excellent and such good fun.  In fact I felt like I read most of the story wearing a ridiculous grin.  The authors have managed to take this story and write it in such a way that it’s a fully fleshed out novel but still manages to give you the same feeling you have when you read a comic which is no small achievement.

The story is set in a world of dashing and fearless heros where madcap sparks (inventors if you will) have turned the Industrial Revolution into  chaos creating all sorts of weird and wonderful contraptions.  The Heterodyne Boys – heroes of the people – have disappeared mysteriously and are now only remembered through the story books that people read that recount their adventures.  With no deterrent the remaining mad scientists fight a war for supremacy which results in the ruthless Baron Klaus Wulfenbach gaining ultimate control.  He now rules the country with an iron fist, aided by his strange and diverse collection of robots, Jagerkin and constructs that he has accumulated through the spoils of war and which now form part of his vast army.

Agatha is a lab assistant at a University.  She never manages to quite succeed with any of her inventions and seems to be plagued by headaches that leave her unable to think straight.  She seems doomed to mediocrity and life conspires against her.  Particularly as she sets off for work one morning and is robbed by a couple of down on their luck soldiers who steal her precious locket – this is then followed by the lab where she assists being overthrown and finally results in Agatha being taken prisoner aboard the Baron’s massive airship castle.

The characters in the story are really what made it for me.  Lets start with the Jagermonsters – I loved these guys!  They are so funny.  They’re huge and supposedly imposing in a scary way but they are so great to read and they were just weird about Agatha – ‘Hey! Hyu iz in schombodes howz!  Is not goot manners to say dey schmells fonny!  Come on, how can you resist.  I kept reading all their dialogue to my other half – he was strangely unimpressed.  I guess you had to be deeply in the throes of the story!  Then there’s all the gadets and robots – particularly all of Agatha’s made up bits and pieces that follow her about like lovesick ducklings.  On top of that there are baddies and goodies galore.  A bunch of mixed age range children who are all there to give the Baron leverage over their parents – an assortment of characters these not to mention their odd nanny Von Pinn who is this huge and scary Miss Whiplash type of character (really, I’m not kidding) not to mention a sinister assassin called DuPree.  Anyway, take my word for it – there is no shortage of excellent, sinister, moustache twirling, funny, dashing or geeky characters.  And, I liked all of them!  Even, and in fact especially, the baddies!

On top of that Agatha is a real treat to read.  She starts the story just marvellously naive about herself and her own past.  You could be forgiven for thinking that she was going to be a real pushover instead of which she manages to be quite kickass, intelligent and have a fiery temper once riled up.  The Baron’s son, Gil, is soon to take a liking to Agatha – and this is where the ‘romance’ element comes into the story.  Don’t be distracted by that though or think this is all about gushing, love sick devotion.  The two of them have in common their intelligence and love of invention and the relationship side is only very briefly touched upon here – in fact it’s more of a whet your appetite for things to come I suspect.

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and happily I think there’s at least one further instalment already waiting to be picked up which I’m really looking forward to.  I think what really comes across with this novel is that the author’s enjoyed themselves writing it and it really shows.

So, zany, funny, steampunk, touch of romance and a grand adventure.  How could it fail to please? Not to mention mechanical insects that turn people into revenants!

I’m including this as one of my World’s Without End, Women of Genre fiction reading challenges and also for my Stainless Steel Droppings Once Upon a Time event.

7 Responses to “Agatha H and the Airship City by Phil and Kaja Foglio”

  1. Carl V. Anderson

    The comic book series is a pretty massive hit and has been for a long time. Oddly enough I read the first few issues waaaaaaay back when and just wasn’t getting into it. I think it was probably just a timing thing as I have no doubt I would enjoy it, though I have no intention of going back to try to read them all.

    So…I really should just read the novels! I love the Tom Kidd covers which make them tempting every time I see them in the stores. I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed the series so much. The creators have a really nice following and I’m excited for them that the novels are getting such a good reception.

    • lynnsbooks

      This novel was certainly really good in many respects. I think you can definitely tell the authors were enjoying themselves and there’s a tremendous sense of fun – even with the villains – it feels very old style baddie – you can sort of picture long twirly moustaches and damsels in distress being tied to railway lines. There’s just an overall sense of nothing is too serious which makes it lovely and easy to read. Plus the characters are very enjoyable to get to know.
      The covers are a feast for the eyes – I could spend forever looking at them and I think I would probably still find something new to look at the next time I picked the book up.
      Lynn 😀

      • Carl V. Anderson

        Yes, I’ve been a fan of Tom Kidd’s art for a long time now. Beautiful stuff.

        I like a good twirly mustache melodrama! 🙂

      • lynnsbooks

        I must check out some more of Tom Kidd’s work – see what other books he’s made into things of beauty!
        Lynn 😀

  2. Auntie

    -chuckle- Sounds like fun…

    • lynnsbooks

      It is fun – you should read it – it would give you a giggle.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Top ten books I’d love to see as a movie or tv show | Lynn's Book Blog

    […] Agatha H and the Airship City by Phil and Kaja Foglio – a series again. […]

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