Running away from home never sounded so good, especially when it involves stowing away on a ritzy, cloaked-in-magic ship.
Under the conservative tyranny of guardians who are convinced she’ll become a harlot, 16-year-old Emilie decides it’s time to run away. Inspired by her cherished serial adventure books, she delights in the romance of escape—until she forms blisters, gets hungry and, after spending too much on snacks, can’t afford the ferry ticket to reach her cousin’s home. There’s only one logical thing to do: jump off the docks, swim to the nearest boat and hope for the best. After boarding what she hopes is the right ship, she witnesses a pirate attack, saves a scaled man and watches as a merging of magic and science transports the ship to a legendary world within a world. Competing explorers, a cunning mer-queen regnant, more than one dirigible and plenty of well-aimed punches make for an adventure that would titillate Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Though Emilie’s homeland of Menea is fictional, it has all the makings of Victorian England. As in the Victorian era, sexism is prevalent, but that doesn’t stop a roster of ripsnorting female characters (first among them Emilie) from wielding pistols, captaining ships and slyly defeating enemies. At one point, after escaping a prison cell, Emilie thinks, “If I’d known it was going to be that hard, I’d never have tried,” a phrase that embodies the honesty and humor that make this read worthwhile.
A swashbuckling escape for avid readers that trades buttoned-up boundaries for unbridled adventure. (Fantasy. 14 & up)