An orphan in a mountain stronghold of cultural archivists uncovers secrets.
Lina Winterbock of Ortana in the land of Solace is disheveled, in perpetual trouble, and a loner. Her only solace in Solace is an airship she finds in a cave impenetrable by anyone with adult proportions. As an apprentice training to catalog objects catapulted into Solace from other worlds, she wants to restore the ship to prove her worth as an “explorer archivist”—a title of her own design. Outside the neutrality of Ortana, two royal families wage war, and Ozben, the secondary heir of one dynasty, is secreted to Ortana for safeguarding. Lina learns Ozben’s true identity, and the two discover that sharing a secret (his blue blood, her airship) heals their loneliness. It also makes them both targets for assassination. In this world, women in positions of power and prestige are prevalent and unquestioned. The third-person narration alternates between Lina and Ozben as they combat adversaries and further comprehend the strength of their special bond. Not as steampunk-y as Johnson’s Mark of the Dragonfly (2014), this is still an engaging world rich in detail, mayhem, and adventure. And though there is slight overlap between this and Dragonfly, it is sturdy as a stand-alone.
All aboard for fantasy lovers with a dual penchant for girl power and keeping up with the Indiana Joneses. (map, acknowledgments) (Fantasy. 11-15)