Agatha H. and the Airship City

Kaja Foglio, Phil Foglio
Agatha H. and the Airship City Cover

Agatha H and the Airship City


AGATHA H. AND THE AIRSHIP CITY by Phil and Kaja Foglio, is about a teenage girl working in the Transylvania Polygnostic University laboratory, who undergoes a huge upheaval in her life where nothing will ever be the same. I first came across Agatha as the fun web comic GIRL GENIUS, then decided to read the first novelization.

I noticed that some of the individuals have names of other famous humorous characters such as "Wooster" (P.G. Wodehouse), Master Gilgamesh Wulfenbach's man, and "Punch and Judy" (based in mythology), the associates of the famous Heterodyne twin brothers who disappeared about sixteen years before our current story takes place.

In this book, Agatha is separated from her adoptive parents who are "constructs" (people who have been reconstructed from a collection of body parts and revived with a massive dose of electricity) and taken by evil Baron Wulfenbach to his floating castle. The Baron is currently the ruler of everything. On the airship she meets a large assortment of interesting people who may or may not, depending on their sometimes hidden agendas, help Agatha in escaping from the airship. She has a habit of sleepwalking and building things and soon discovers that she is a "Spark", a genius who is consumed with building things that will either be helpful or kill them. The life of a Spark is sometimes very short. She also finds out she is not who her adoptive parents led her to believe she is.

The plot moves fast and in some cases, such as in the last chapter, I felt it moved a bit too fast. Although the climactic action was exciting, with lots of fights to the death, it was hard for me to remember what motivation was behind each of the many characters involved. Maybe that's just me. The authors could have easily added another 50 pages to give more of the characters some proper background.

This "gaslamp fantasy" novel has all the bells and whistles, so to speak. I loved all the contraptions! Mechanical Soldiers, Slaver Wasps, even a talking cat named Krosp:

"Oh, it worked perfectly. I'm the highest-ranking cat there is. They all listen to me."
"Then why-?"
Krosp whirled, his fur a-bristle, "Because they're cats! They're animals! They can't grasp complex concepts! Their attention span can be measured in microseconds! Even if I can get them to understand what I want, they're only under my command until they fall asleep, or see something move, or blink!"

The conflict in the story is Agatha trying to decide who is on her side and who is trying to manipulate her. Along the way there is plenty of humor and some romance. Now that all the players are in place, I look forward to reading other adventures. Will Agatha ever find true love? Will she be able to take down the evil Baron and restore goodness to her homeland?

Read these books and find out!

ebook, 264 pages, Published January 1st 2011 by Night Shade Books (first published 2010)