My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Found this one at the library and picked it up for a listen. I found it quite good. The worldbuilding was thorough, including a lexicon of terms especially adapted to the storyline. It's not quite steampunk (no steam tech), but that's probably as close a designation as I can use. There is some advanced tech, including enhanced humans, and primitive gadgetry, and some mad science type elements that bring to mind the steampunk asthetic, so there you have it. Rossamund was a really great kid--quite tough for all that he goes through in this book. He had a good heart and an unshakeable sense of conscience that guides him through the murky waters of his journey from being a foundling at a home for orphans to his profession as a Lamplighter in service of the Emperor.
I liked Europe. She was a bit fussy and stuck up at times, but I think that's just her way of dealing with emotional situations that she's not comfortable with. You could tell she grew quite fond of Rossamund, and who could blame her.
Kids being abused and taken advantage of is a huge issue for me, so that horrible Captain Poundage's treatment of poor Rossamund really got my goat. I found this part so hard to deal with, knowing he was taking advantage of a child before Rossamund figures that out. I wanted to jump inside the story and beat the crap out of the guy. He truly deserved a medieval-style beatdown.
The concept of what a monster is leads to some interesting thoughts about right and wrong. Is a monster merely a non-human creature, or can a human be worse of a monster than a non-human creature? I think that this story proves the latter, most definitely. The worst monster of all in this book is a human man--Captain Poundage. And Rossamund is bright enough to see that from early on. He helps Europe to open her mind to see the same. Not that her profession is 100% wrong, but maybe she should think more about who/what she feels is deserving of destruction.
I liked this book a lot. I found Rossamund utterly endearing, and the adventures on which he embarked kept me listening intently, and on the edge of my seat. This is a good story for younger readers and slightly older ones (like me).
Gemma Arterton as Europe
Kodi Smit-McPhee as Rossamund
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