Author: L. M. Fry
Young Adult > Fantasy
Fantasy > Science Fiction
Steampunk > Fantasy
Published/Publisher: March 30th 2016/Eleah Enterprises
Format Read In: E-Book
Summary from Goodreads:
Colorado teen Theodora, “Theo”, will do anything to find her missing mom, including travel into the hidden and mysterious Victorian subculture of Aether. She takes a ride with airship pirates to a floating island full of strange automatons and even stranger people. After a century-old feud reignites, she uncovers the alarming truth about her family’s past. Finding her mother is more important than ever.
My Review [SPOILERS AHEAD]:
“You need to learn our history in order to know your future, Theodora. You’re as much a part of Aether as we are. Your parents lied to you… with good reason. Now, you need to face the truth.” – Victoria Corvus-Stein; Into Aether, L. M. Fry
*I received this book for free from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*
This cover looks spectacular (it’s a good chuck of why I requested the book)! You can really sense the thrill of adventure and steampunk-ery from it. The symbol is very pretty and it, couple with the text, was really elegant, so thumbs up for that!
Theo’s mom goes missing one day and while Theo looks for her, she is led away from her home and into the land of Aether, where she uncovers secrets about her family and about the land she’s been taken to. This land of Aether is pretty much like steampunk: Victorian architecture with advanced machines run by advanced energy. We get more worldbuilding as the secret-keeping characters begin to reveal the background of this new world. It begins with a goddess named Danu, who had three daughters, Ealga, Aeda and Maera, who each ruled a land in this other world. Danu dies and her spirit becomes the aether, the atmosphere around the world, that powers the machines in Aetherland. Humans hid Danu’s body and broke the key to her location into three parts, which everyone has been trying to keep separate for when they form, they could give the user untold power. Eventually, the descendants of Ealga desired more power and sought it from the lands of her sisters. The families had to flee, and Theo’s in particular fled to the human world. Each of Danu’s daughters had daughters which became the next “trinity” of daughters. Theo’s is a descendant of one of these daughters, whom she sees in her dreams and who communicates with her in short whispers, which leads her to trouble. The plot was nice and simple, and the worldbuilding with Danu’s daughters was interesting.
It was kind of interesting that Fry wove in the story of ‘Frankenstein’ into this novel, with the Stein family being Aetherian and committing the “crime” of creating life using aether which they shared with a human (Mary Shelley, in this case) who wrote a story about it. I’m a sucker for call backs to fairy tales and classics.
We see two different lands. First there is Aetherland, where Theo is taken to first and where she interacts with the Stein family, friends of her mothers. This land is entirely empty except for the Steins, but looks like a small town. Then there is Subterria, a cold and desolate island that strongly separates the rich (headed by the Order of the Azure Serpent, the power-hungry descendants of Ealga) from the poor where the scent of rebellion is boiling over.
I’d hoped we’d get to explore more of the Ireland setting in description. I know it isn’t really the focus of the story but it would have been nice to give some homage to the lovely Irish coast.
Theodora “Theo” Parson is our protagonist, a young teenager who lost her father earlier in her life and was raised by her academic mother and is close to her aunt, Grace. Her affection towards her mother was really nice to see, especially when books featuring teens tend to forget that parents even exist. She’s a pretty typical teen complete with childish antics. I felt bad for her to be dragged around by total strangers and not told anything for most of the beginning, but she held together pretty well. She seems to talk to herself a lot which I found to be rather cute in it’s oddity. Her focus in her missions tended to shift unexpectedly, like when she went from her mission to get out of the villain’s home to a mission in trying to solve where Juliette’s daughter, and the third member of Theo’s generation of trinity daughters, could be (something she’d had no interest in for most of the book). But she focuses back pretty quickly.
Aunt Gracelynn Monahan is a bit of an air-head (this is an understatement) to a point where it got annoying and irresponsible. But she can have her lovable moments. She adores her cat and seems to think it can do no wrong, which I can totally understand (yes, I’m that kind of cat person), but most of the time, her actions are hard to explain, and it feels like she doesn’t care for Theo as much as an aunt should. At times, she’s more distracted with her own self to worry about Theo’s state of mind. I just didn’t quite get the point of her.
Victor Corvus-Stein is an Aetherian from Aetherland Isle and the main love interest, an inventor with a passion for gadgets. He was a rather arrogant and snobbish in a way that could be construed as charming but was rather boring to me. As was the attempt to round out his personality by having him be loving towards most of his family. But regardless of his personality, I could still enjoy his more quirky sides, like his love for inventing which boarded on seriously nerdy. I didn’t care at all for his romance with Theo, but especially so since their scenes were particularly awkward, and there’s no love lost between me and insta-love-based romances.
Marjorie Monahan-Parson, Theo’s mother, Grace’s sister and a descendant of Danu, appeared to be a workaholic but who could still find time to be with her daughter. She’s missing for most of the book and when we come back to her, we don’t really get to know her for long other than she’s a very good liar and an apparent genius when it comes to Aetherian technology. It was nice that she and Theo could reconnect by the end.
Among the Corvus-Stein family, there is first Valera, Victor’s sister, who Theo quickly takes a liking to and they bond very easily, their personalities pretty much parallel. Then there is Vivian “Vivi” Rose Corvus-Stein, Victor and Valera’s younger half-sister, was very cute and incredibly excitable. Her straightforwardness and cheerfulness was a welcomed change to the secrecy surrounding her family. Victoria Corvus-Stein, the mother Victor, Valera and Vivi (so. many. Vs.), is a very posh and secretive woman who I couldn’t help feeling sorry for; despite her apparent coldness and tight-lip, she struggles with keeping her family together and keeping Theo’s mom’s secret safe all while trying to reel Theo in. Can’t be easy, especially when she’s pretty much doing it alone. Vanessa “Nessie” Stein is Victor, Valera and Vivi’s aunt, Victoria’s sister, and the captain of the ship, the AV Agrippa. She’s a rough-n-tumble kind of chick, very much a swashbuckler who refuses to be tide down expectations, which I thoroughly enjoyed. If you needed a queer-pirate-queen fix, Nessie’s your gal. Finally, we have Titus Stein, Vivi’s father and Victor and Valera’s step-father, a nasty man who isn’t seen as a separate person from his brutish brothers, Marcus and Rufus, for most of the book until he goes rogue against the Order and our villain, Lazarus, due to his love for his daughter.
Lazarus Killian, as I just mentioned, was pretty much your run-off-the-mill elegant villain, who walks with a practiced saunter and a cruel, charming smile. He is the head of the Order of the Azure Serpent, a group that claims to want to protect Aether but is actually segregating the land (or something like that, it’s not entirely clear), and Hank, Johnson, Titus, Rufus, and Marcus work for him. For the most part, he acts like the selfless host to Vivi and Theo, when they are kidnapped and brought to him, but he quickly reveals himself to be cunning and ruthlessly single-minded. Despite that, though, there were odd things he did like leaving Theo and Vivi, whom he didn’t want to alert, to violent brutes who have actively threatened them. Not exactly a great idea.
Julia is Theo’s best, and only, friend of two-years, a flirty and sarcastic person who shows support towards Theo in the beginning, when Theo can’t figure out what her dreams are trying to tell her and why weird things are happening around her. The twist to her character being apart of Team Villain wasn’t all that surprising but at the end, when she appears pretty much out of nowhere and kidnaps Valera, I got really pumped to see her next move! I love sh*t-starters.
This book is going to need some editing. It’s not the worst I’ve seen and I can tolerate more grammar mistakes than most folks but it does need quite a bit of work before it’s publish-able, for sure. I also wasn’t super into Theo’s initial set up. Her emo-dressed-everyone-at-school-hates-me-and-are-stereotypically-nasty-“bad”-“girl” persona gave me some serious fanfiction circa 2008 feelings which was rather nostalgic but definitely didn’t help me take her very seriously. The dialogue needs some serious work; it’s clunky, awkward, unbelievable and just doesn’t flow well. Much like the action sequences; there needs to be some fluff in between. Some scenes didn’t entirely make sense to me, like why people would break into a house so early in the morning or why no one seemed to react much when a ladder fell from the sky to lead them to the AV Agrippa. A few other nitty-gritty things were off, which made reading the story pretty slow for me.
My Rating: 2.5/5