Nothing like mystery, murder, daring feats, schemes and Sasquatch for a nice November read, right? I found this gem a little while ago and decided to give it a shot and I'm glad I did. Let's get right down to it, shall we?
Will Everett came from humble beginnings before a heroic act got his family money and prosperity. Now that his father has taken over the railroad he once worked for, Will has the chance to board the Boundless, a massive engine on her maiden voyage and dragging the funeral car of his father's predecessor...and his treasures if the rumor is to be believed. But a murder takes place and Will takes it upon himself to join a traveling circus to protect the train and his father and put a stop to the criminal's plot. But it soon becomes clear that Will's not too sure who to trust.
The thing that I kinda liked about the set up of this world is that it's not all realistic. While, for the most part, it could take place in the real world, but there's also a supernatural element to this book that takes it from real to surreal. I mentioned the existence of Sasquatches before, which are not only proven to be exist but are also attractions in a circus, but hags what lure unsuspecting victims into bogs exist as well and other magical creatures. This gives it a whimsical edge that makes long battles on the roof of a train and hidden treasure.
The key element of this story is the mystery and the race against time. Getting across a moving train while you're being chased and villains are trying to kill you gives this book the tight, claustrophobic edge that makes it feel more urgent, but it's also nicely paced so it doesn't feel too rushed. It's also a pretty easy read. Younger and older readers will appreciate the creativity in this book, as well as the visuals and unique characters.
Will is mostly a wide-eyed adventurer type of character with established wishes and desires, but he also has a strong moral compass. There are times in this book when he questions the people who seemed to be helping him, but rightfully so. He's not whining because he thinks what he has to do is too hard or doubting himself. His concerns are legitimately concerning. He don't know who to trust, he doesn't want to make a mistake. He just wants to do the right thing, protect the train, his father and himself (though maybe not in that order). The circus troupe is an interesting collection of characters and there's a real sense of community and camaraderie between them. They're pretty accepting of Will's joining up with them and, while it's unclear just how trustworthy they are, they're still a lot of fun to be around.
Now, one thing I was a little unsure of is that this book can get a little...controversial. Now, there's nothing explicit or anything in it, it's just...well, there's a scene where the main character needs a disguise and what they pick is...not good. You can probably figure it out from that. Race is brought up a couple of times in some not very PC ways. I never really felt it went too far or anything but certain people will probably come across it and get a little up-in-arms over it. While I'm not really one to climb on a high horse over every little thing, if I thought this might be pushing it then other people are probably really going to have a problem with it. Just food for thought.
A good adventure, good characters, an interesting plot, I had a good time with this one. If you can put some of the less politically correct bits aside and judge the story for...well, the story, then you'll probably have a good time with this one. I'd definitely say read it but wait for it on paperback.
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