Kirkus Reviews goes out to bookstores all over the US - it's the magazine for telling bookstores what to order in. So it's great to get such a glowing review. Love the last line - why hasn't Harland been published in America before!
KIRKUS REVIEWS (May 2010)
Down Under steampunk in the tradition of Philip Reeve, moving cities and all. In the 1840s, Europe took to the road in massive juggernauts. Society froze, with the rich literally on top (the Upper Decks) and the poor Filthies relegated to a steaming, boiler- and piston-filled hell, brought above only to be surgically transformed into perfect Menials. Sheltered Col Porpentine, chosen successor to his Supreme Commander grandfather, lives aboard Worldshaker, where the mores of Victorian England have become only more entrenched in the last 150 years. When he meets a female Filthy escapee, Col finds that what is right may not be what is proper, and his future as commander may be destroyed by a rebellion he himself helps bring about. Aurealis Award winner Harland has a deft hand for balancing the icky and creepy—Col’s grandmother starves Menials, then cries over them; schoolteacher Mr. Gibber indeed gibbers and prances most spectacularly—with fast plotting, family rivalries and dashing heroics. The climax provides a page-turning, pulse-pounding read (the dash of romance helps). Why hasn’t Harland been published here before? (Steampunk. 12 & up)
And here's review appearing in
Booklist Issue: May 15, 2010
(book reviews of the American Library Association)
Harland, Richard (Author)
May 2010. 400 p. Simon & Schuster, hardcover, $16.99. (9781416995524).
Colbert Porpentine is in line to be the future supreme commander of Worldshaker, a huge roving
community, more than two miles long and nearly one mile wide, that will have steampunk fans thinking of
Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines. Col’s refined life as an Upper Deck citizen is shaken when Riff, a Filthy
from below decks, escapes, and he finds her hidden in his room. Through Riff and her fellow
Revolutionaries, Col expands his naive understanding of his high society’s practices, especially the
injustices and cruelties that Upper Deck folks commit against the Menials, Filthies, and even the native
villagers Upper Decker people pillage from and crush under their ship. This is a fine introduction to
science fiction for young teens, both male and female, with its intriguing world building, strong characters,
and an exciting plot that—though far from subtle in message—will leave teens thinking about perceptions
and prejudices and the weight of leadership. A proposed sequel should tie up some of the loose ends left
— Cindy Dobrez
Here's a review of Worldshaker from US fantasy author Paula Volsky, who won the World Fantasy Award with The Grande Ellipse, a great novel now generally classified as steampunk. Plus a dozen other great novels including Illusion, The Gates of Twilight, The Wolf in Winter, and many more.
I absolutely love it! Harland has done a spectacular job of creating an extraordinary, highly original world, multileveled both literally and figuratively. He has a visual sense that won't quit--the description of Below is like some infernal vision of Dante, by way of Fritz Lang. His characters are practically incandescent--vivid, vital, and complex, combining elements of good and evil, and sometimes just deliciously bizarre. His style should appeal to readers of all ages, and he combines adventure, suspense, romance, lunatic comedy, and terror in one glorious package.
The book held me from start to finish, and left me wanting more. It has the feel of a classic--it's brand new, but somehow manages to seem as if it's always been here. I think a lot of people will be reading and enjoying this book for a very long time to come.
To put it briefly, WORLDSHAKER is a real world-beater!