I came across an interesting volume depicting flying tall ships and a burning navy on the cover. Intrigued, I looked inside. I found Tales of the Airship Neverland: A Steampunk Fairy Tale by John R. White. It could have been worse, but it had the potential to be so much better.
The action takes place in an intricate alternate universe with places and characters loosely inspired by J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. There are a lot of clever references, particularly in the characters’ names. The titular airship is called the “Neverland” because, due to a governmental coup conducted by the evil Admiral James Hooker, the ship is never allowed to land. The ship is a machine of beauty, tended by the engineer “Tinker” Belle, who happens to have several pairs of functioning mechanical wings.
While the world building is intricate and pleasing, the prose could have used another edit before publication. I feel it suffers from inconsistent character development and a minefield of minor plotholes. I did not understand some of the characters’ motivations. For instance, at a certain point, the witch character flips from malevolent narcissist to fierce, loving mother with no warning or foreshadowing.
This novel frustrated me, because it had such potential to be great. Instead, it was merely all right. I give it two and a half gears out of five for squandering its novel concepts. The world created by John R. White was exciting to read about, but the man left many holes in the plot for me to stumble over. I hope he does better next time!
Your Correspondent From The Bookstore,
Penny J. Merriweather