Scholastic, £12.99. Order for £11.69 (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 0870 079 8897
Fever Crumb, By Philip Reeve
London calls for a master of invention
Thursday 11 June 2009
Philip Reeve's intricate imagination makes J K Rowling feel like Enid Blyton, but he is as adept as she is at creating likeable characters, subtle villains and situations where good is hard to sort from evil.
Fever Crumb takes place after an apocalyptic end to civilisation. The North Sea is a desert and wheeled land-ships trundle around Europe. All trade centres around archaeology, as the survivors of Armageddon try to understand the purpose of the mangled remains of our machines, and a markedly medieval civic framework operates.
Reeve's first book, Mortal Engines, started a thousand years later. London, "a moving mountain of metal", roamed on gigantic caterpillar tracks north to the Ice Waste and south to the Mediterranean in search of smaller cities. This was "Municipal Darwinism", in which nomadic cities preyed on slower-moving towns which in turn preyed on static settlements. The world had worked like this "ever since the great engineer Nicolas Quirke had turned London into the first Traction City". The adventures of Reeve's characters continued in Predator's Gold and Infernal Devices, and climaxed in A Darkling Plain.
Now Reeve has cast back into the past. Fever Crumb is a foundling who has lived with the utterly rational Guild of Engineers in Godshawks's Head, a towering iron folly made by Auric Godshawk, the last of London's Scriven overlords. Rebellious Londoners long ago destroyed the brilliant, but autocratic Scrivens, but now are under threat from Northern nomads who have made more practical use of the world's lost technology. Fever can save London, for her brain holds the key to Godshawk's genius. But will she risk losing herself in the process of discovery?
Reeve's vividly pictorial writing is becoming ever more accomplished and fluent. I enjoyed his plays on London place names (Pickled Eel Circus, Hampster's Heath) and shuddered at the sinister robot paperboys. There is always method in his madness: this is a book about establishing identity, being true to yourself, and keeping children, the only hopes of the future, safe.
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 What if 35 Palestinians had died, and 800 Israelis?
- 2 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 3 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 4 'Women should not laugh in public,' says Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister in morality speech
- 5 Ross Burden dead: MasterChef and Ready Steady Cook star dies at age 45 after suffering from cancer
Led Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Freddie Prinze Jr on 24: 'Kiefer Sutherland was the most unprofessional dude in the world – I hated every moment of it'
50 best running songs: From Avicii and Pharrell Williams to the classic 'Eye of the Tiger'
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies trailer unveiled at Comic-Con
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
- < Previous
- Next >