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Steeplejack
by A. J. Hartley


Overview -

Thoughtfully imaginative and action-packed, Steeplejack is New York Times bestselling A. J. Hartley's YA debut set in a 19th-century South African fantasy world

Seventeen-year-old Anglet Sutonga lives repairing the chimneys, towers, and spires of the city of Bar-Selehm.  Read more...


 
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More About Steeplejack by A. J. Hartley
 
 
 
Overview

Thoughtfully imaginative and action-packed, Steeplejack is New York Times bestselling A. J. Hartley's YA debut set in a 19th-century South African fantasy world

Seventeen-year-old Anglet Sutonga lives repairing the chimneys, towers, and spires of the city of Bar-Selehm. Dramatically different communities live and work alongside each other. The white Feldish command the nation s higher echelons of society. The native Mahweni are divided between city life and the savannah. And then there s Ang, part of the Lani community who immigrated over generations ago as servants and now mostly live in poverty on Bar-Selehm s edges.

When Ang is supposed to meet her new apprentice Berrit, she finds him dead. That same night, the Beacon, an invaluable historical icon, is stolen. The Beacon s theft commands the headlines, yet no one seems to care about Berrit s murder except for Josiah Willinghouse, an enigmatic young politician. When he offers her a job investigating his death, she plunges headlong into new and unexpected dangers.

Meanwhile, crowds gather in protests over the city s mounting troubles. Rumors surrounding the Beacon s theft grow. More suspicious deaths occur. With no one to help Ang except Josiah s haughty younger sister, a savvy newspaper girl, and a kindhearted herder, Ang must rely on her intellect and strength to resolve the mysterious link between Berrit and the missing Beacon before the city descends into chaos.

A richly realized world, an intensely likable character, and a mystery to die for." Cory Doctorow, New York Times-bestselling author

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Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780765383426
  • ISBN-10: 076538342X
  • Publisher: Tor Teen
  • Publish Date: June 2016
  • Page Count: 336
  • Reading Level: Ages 13-18
  • Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds

Series: Alternative Detective

Related Categories

Books > > Fantasy - Historical
Books > > Action & Adventure - General
Books > > Mysteries & Detective Stories

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2016-03-21
  • Reviewer: Staff

Racial tensions and class strife provide the underlying conflict in this tense mystery, first in the Alternate Detective series, set in an industrialized fantasy city reminiscent of Victorian-era South Africa. Sixteen-year-old Ang Sutonga works as a “steeplejack,” cleaning and maintaining Bar-Selehm’s many towers and spires. When her new apprentice is murdered, no one seems to care. Then a secret government organization hires Ang to find the killer, believing the death is linked to more important matters, such as the theft of the city’s fabled Beacon—an impossibly valuable piece of luxorite, the glowing mineral that forms the backbone of the city’s economy. As Ang delves into the mystery, she discovers treachery, danger, and evidence of a far-reaching conspiracy that could throw the region into chaos. Hartley’s (the Darwen Arkwright series) story is a thought-provoking blend of action and intrigue, with a competent and ethical heroine in Ang and a fully imagined setting whose atmosphere and cultural cues also play important roles. The result is an unforgettable page-turner built on surprises and full of potential. Ages 13–up. Agent: Stacey Glick, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (June)

 
BookPage Reviews

Outsider teeters on the edge

BookPage Teen Top Pick, June 2016

The best imaginary worlds give readers the opportunity not only to enter a different realm but also to consider how that imaginary world reflects or distorts our actual one. Few novels have tackled this as skillfully as Steeplejack, the young-adult debut by bestselling author A.J. Hartley.

Set in a world that looks very much like an alternative historical version of South Africa, Steeplejack tackles head-on the kinds of bigotry, class and race warfare and identity politics that are all too relevant in the real world. This social commentary is placed in the context of a thrilling mystery plot, investigated by a truly unforgettable heroine.

Anglet Sutonga is a steeplejack, one of the best climbers the city of Bar-Selehm has ever seen. But when the boy picked to be her next apprentice dies in a fall, Ang is convinced not only that his death was no accident, but also that he is somehow connected to the sudden disappearance of the Beacon, Bar-Selehm’s greatest treasure, a hunk of priceless luxorite. Soon Ang, like the city itself, is caught between different factions and racial groups, each blaming the other for the city’s mounting problems, each convinced the other has something to hide. Ang must discover new reserves of strength, especially when she faces a very personal betrayal. 

Steeplejack is quietly thoughtful and breathlessly exciting, and with two more series installments to follow, Ang’s personal and professional journey is far from over.

 

This article was originally published in the June 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews