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Girl Genius Agatha H and the Clockwork Princess - Phil & Kaja Foglio

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Paperback: 258 pages / Publisher: Titan Books / Published: 18 Jan 2013

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      15.05.2013 11:59
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      Something a Little Different.

      Nobody said that life on the road with a travelling show would be easy, but Master Payne's Circus of Adventure seems to face more hazards than most. Firstly, there are those giant battle clanks lurking in the forest, waiting to reduce unsuspecting travellers to cinders. There are also prowling gangs of eerie Geisterdamen, or spider riders, with their ghostly glowing eyes and long hair. Nearby towns could be inhabited by revenants; misshapen zombie humans infected by Slaver Wasps, hungrily on the lookout for their next victim. But when a mysterious girl called Agatha and her talking cat join the troupe, that's when the real danger begins...

      Girl Genius: Agatha H and the Clockwork Princess is the second novel in the series adapted from the popular award-winning webcomic. It picks up where the last book left off, with Agatha and Krosp on the run from the ruthless Baron Wulfenbach. Agatha joins a circus and soon makes new friends and allies, including a green-haired warrior princess called Zeetha and a former cheesemaker's apprentice called Lars, who is instantly attracted to Agatha and wants her as his leading lady.

      The story contains non-stop action, with plenty of exciting scenes of adventure and peril. There are also a few tender moments, which provide some respite from all the fighting and action. The characters are all larger than life and remarkably complex; I'm sure that the Baron himself would be a welcome subject for any psychology student! Another fascinating character is Prince Tarvek, a two-faced snake torn between his attraction for Agatha and his desire to get ahead. I love the fact that none of the characters are simply 'good' or 'bad', but have layers of depth which make them completely unpredictable.

      The book deals with the subject of family in quite an unusual way. Agatha has a rather unorthodox reunion with her long lost mother, another character has a sister who is a sentient robot and the author himself makes a cameo appearance in which he reluctantly meets his great, great grandfather who is quite literally, a monster.

      The titular 'Clockwork Princess' does not make an appearance until the last third of the book. She is not really a main character and I suspect that they chose the title because it sounded good rather than it having anything to do with the plot.

      I cannot praise this book enough. It is clever and witty and genuinely had me laughing out loud. Although it is a sequel, it also works as a standalone novel thanks to the hilarious footnotes explaining the plot and characters to newcomers. The poems and songs at the beginning of each chapter were as entertaining as the narrative itself. As the book left things open for a sequel, I was left desperately wanting more after I finished the final page.

      Although this book works as a standalone novel, it is a good idea to read the first book for a more rounded understanding of the plot and characters.

      I previously published this review on The Bookbag website and thank the publishers for my review copy.

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