First up - The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer.
Sir Richard Wyndham is every inch a Regency dandy - tall, dark and handsome, dressed immaculately, a gambler, permanently bored. His mother and sister visit him one day and more or less order him to marry the woman it has been understood he will marry since childhood; he is now 29. Unfortunately the idea doesn't appeal to Richard in the slightest. He gets very drunk the night before he has to go and ask for the woman's hand and on the way home encounters a boy climbing out of a second storey window. Only when he catches 'him' does Wyndham discover that it isn't a 'him' after all... it's a her... one Penelope Creed, aged 17 and merely dressed as boy. Pen is escaping from her adopted family who want her to marry their son. She's on the way to Somerset, to her ancestoral home, and to the man she thinks she wants to marry; Wyndham, in a drunken haze, decides to acompany her. Amongst their many adventures on stage coaches and in coaching inns they discover a stolen necklace, get mixed up with some very rum company indeed, and witness a murder. Will life ever be the same again for either of them?
I hadn't read The Corinthian in a very long time but a recent post about it reminded me of how much fun it was, so I dug it out and wallowed in an absolutely wonderful Regency romance. I seem to recall being charmed and amused by it all those years ago, but with the benefit of even more advanced years, the predicament Wyndham finds himself in and the dryness of his sense of humour is now even more appealing. It was fun too because I know the area where the story is set... that of Keynsham and it's surrounding villages... as we lived there from 1975 to 1979. And now of course I want to dig out more Heyers and gorge on them - once upon a time it wasn't unknown for me to read 20 or 30 straight off and end up overdosing. So I shall restrain myself and read a few over the summer, along with other things.
Next: Infernal Devices by Philip Reeve, part 3 of his Mortal Engines series.
The first two books of this YA series concentrate on Tom Natworthy and Hester Shaw who met in the traction city of London and got into all kinds of trouble and adventures, before settling somewhere on the Dark Continent of post-apocolytic USA. In the eighteen years since the last book they have had a daughter, Wren, and are so isolated that they have no idea that a war has been waging for years between the moving 'Traction' cities and the Green Storm. Life is so quiet in fact that Wren is almost driven mad. She wants adventures like her parents had, but all she seems to do is row with her mother. One night she follows the ex-Lost Boy, now grown up, Caul, and discovers him conversing with Lost Boy, Gargle, beside his vessel. It's clear Caul doesn't want to do what Gargle requires and when Caul leaves, Wren takes his place and offers to steal something called 'The Tin Book' for him. She does this, mayhem ensues on the beach, and Wren is taken prisoner by the Lost Boy vessel. She ends up on the floating city of Brighton, a slave to Pennyroyal, the rogue who once tried to kill her father. A lot of people seem to want The Tin Book. What is it and why are they prepared to kill to get hold of it? Meanwhile Tom and Hester are once more out in the world, frantically searching for their lost daughter. Can they reach her before the book reaches the hands of Stalker Fang, the Green Storm leader, and 'she' discovers its true purpose?
Wonderful. Put simply, this YA series is amazing. It's fantasy but not your ordinary run-of-the-mill fantasy (and there's nothing wrong with that either). The author's sheer inventiveness and ability to inject pace into an already exciting plot is just fantastic. And a world where cities move about the world preying and devouring smaller towns, well who would have thought of that? I just can't praise the series highly enough to be honest. The first two books were superb - this third one is even better, in my opinion. I can't wait to read the 4th., A Darkling Plain, to see how the author resolves all the issues and ties up loose ends. And now there is a 5th. book, Fever Crumb, a prequel, which explains how the traction cities and stalkers came into being. Philip Reeve is definitely one of my favourite YA adult authors and long may he continue to write.