Following the events of Weather Witch (2013), Jordan trains to become a Conductor—the human battery of an airship—while her love interest and would-be rescuer falls in with sky pirates.
Aboard the Artemesia, there’s a lot going on. Jordan is forced to use weather magic, an illusionist (the “Wandering Wallace”) forwards a mysterious agenda, and Bran (plus his partner and daughter) is held captive by Marion, a witch he Made—and they all take turns as point-of-view characters in third-person narration. Jordan’s slated to replace the ship’s dying Conductor once she learns the job. She’s still a doomed victim awaiting rescue when the captain, finding her beautiful, subjects her to new, adult horrors. Finally, she discovers the key to her powers: rage. Meanwhile, her sweetheart Rowen’s shanghaied onto a pirate airship, where he meets anti-slavery captain Elizabeth. She soon shows her quasi-captive the secret workings of her ship’s illegal steam technology. Of other subplots, the best involves corrupt Council members and their plot to maintain an unjust status quo. The rhetoric is decidedly current for the period setting: Elites discuss the political advantages of quagmire wars, and one character implores another: “Be the change you want to see.” With so many viewpoints and separate storylines, all plots inch along slowly, with their convergences only hinted at for future installments.
Readers who liked the first novel will enjoy the fleshed-out world; others (especially readers frustrated with Jordan’s passivity) should pass. (Fantasy. 13-16)