The nation of Garnia has been at war for as long as Auxiliary Lieutenant Josette Dupris can remember – this time against neighboring Vinzhalia. Garnia’s Air Signal Corp stands out as the favored martial child of the King. But though it’s co-ed, women on-board are only allowed “auxiliary” crew positions and are banned from combat. In extenuating circumstances, Josette saves her airship in the heat of battle. She is rewarded with the Mistral, becoming Garnia’s first female captain.
She wants the job – just not the political flak attached. On top of patrolling the front lines, she must also contend with a crew who doubts her expertise, a new airship that is an untested deathtrap, and the foppish aristocrat Lord Bernat – a gambler and shameless flirt with the military know-how of a thimble. He’s also been assigned to her ship to catalog her every moment of weakness and indecision. When the Vins make an unprecedented military move that could turn the tide of the war, can Josette deal with Bernat, rally her crew, and survive long enough to prove herself to the top brass?
I got this as an eARC and was so delighted to get it because a steampunk novel with a female airship captain? Yes please! Not only that, but that cover is absolutely fantastic and if I’d seen it in a shop, I would have bought it for that. Also yes, those on the cover are not white – although skin colour is rarely mentioned for most of the crew, the one pale skinned character is seen as different which suggests that the rest are all POC.
This novel follows Josette and the adventures on her new airship as she gets to know both the ship and her new crew. The airship itself is fantastic and I really enjoyed the descriptions of it, along with the interactions between the crew and Josette. The characters were all great too, and I enjoyed seeing the character growth of several in particular such as Bernat who really matures after experiencing actual war.
The action is very fast-paced and as it involves a lot of battles, it’s not afraid to let characters die, but it moves so fast you don’t have time to linger on that and just keeps on going. It never seems too violent or gruesome despite the constant battles. The novel is also pretty funny at times albeit with rather dark humour most of the time.
I really enjoyed the worldbuilding in this book, in particular, the focus on females in the army and how they were meant to be assigned harmless roles but of course, that’s rarely very practical and usually ignored.
This is an excellent novel and I really enjoyed it and definitely hope that there will be more. I would definitely recommend it to fans of Fantasy novels and it’s also a fantastic choice to read for the Fantasy Bingo as it fits several categories. I personally chose to read it for the Steampunk category but it would also be great for the Debut space or 2017 release.