Book review

Predator's Gold by Philip Reeve (2003)

Remember Hester, from Mortal Engines?

A terrible scar ran down her face from forehead to jaw, making it look like a portrait that had been furiously crossed out. Her mouth was wrenched sideways in a permanent sneer, her nose was a smashed stump and her single eye stared at him out of the wreckage, as grey and chill as a winter sea.

She's got a rather abrasive character, although we perhaps can understand why. It took her a long time to learn to trust Tom Natsworthy, apprentice historian from the doomed traction city of London, when they were first thrown together by the fates.

But now, more than two years later, Hester Shaw is starting to get used to being happy:

After all her muddy, starveling years in the ditches and scavenger-villes of the Great Hunting Ground she had finally found herself a place in the world. She had her own airship, the Jenny Haniver ... and she had Tom; gentle, handsome, clever Tom, whom she loved with her whole heart and who, in spite of everything, seemed to love her too.

They still live in a dangerous world though, and to survive, they both have to be working on the same side. You might think that would be easy enough, since they are so much in love, but it doesn't take much to undermine Hester's self-confidence.

Pursued by fanatical Green Storm airships into the northern Ice Wastes Tom and Hester set the Jenny Haniver down on the remote and disease-wasted ice city of Anchorage. Hester knows they are lucky to survive the chase at all, until she meets the young, beautiful and spoilt margravine of Anchorage.

It's a bit of a mess really. Freya, the margravine, has an instant crush on Tom. Tom is easily seduced by the easy life on board a traction city. And Hester ... well, Hester has an ungovernable temper, which betrays them all into terrible danger.

I just loved this book! It had me on the edge of my seat, madly turning the pages to keep up with the action. An utterly believable world, full of people who act for obvious human reasons, but who seem to have not a shred of moral fibre between them. Hester, she really should tell Tom what she did. It will come to no good, having secrets like that between them. You mark my words ...

What can I read next?

This is a sequel. Make sure you read them in order:

They aren't easy books to follow, but if you enjoy Philip Reeve's books you might like to look at Philip Pullman's trilogy His Dark Materials, which has a similar mix of unprincipled baddies and a leading couple in love:

Or you could have a look at this brilliant glimpse into a flooded future by Julie Bertagna, and the trials of Mara who tries to lead her people:

A final suggestion is this series by Garth Nix:

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