Another Review at MyShelf.Com

The Kingdom Beyond The Waves
Sequel to The Court of the Air

by Stephen Hunt

      Last year a new star in fantasy writing was born, bursting triumphantly onto a somewhat stale scene with the buoyantly imaginative The Court of the Air (also reviewed on this site). Now Stephen Hunt is back with the sequel, set in the same beautifully realized alternative 19th century world. This new novel shifts the focus onto Amelia Harsh, a female Indiana Jones determined to prove that the mythical land of Camlantis exists. The ensuing quest will take her and the crew of the valiant submarine The Sprite of the Lake, captained by Commodore Black, to the heart of darkness and beyond. Meanwhile, the land of Jackalsí answer to the Scarlet Pimpernel leads a double life with the aid of a magic mask and a friendly reptile.

Here is a novel that hits the ground running, but then runs out of steam (pardon the pun). Whereas the first book was so bursting with plot and incident that you almost needed a rubber band to stop the story bursting out of the book, the plot of this one is basically outlined above. Everything that happens takes quite a time to do so, such as when the crazed megalomaniac cackles with glee as his master plan is about to be realized, he does this for many pages. Donít get me wrong; there is plenty in here to enjoy still, but not enough to justify the awesome length of the novel. Half the plot concerns Ameliaís hair-raising journey (the better half) while the other seemingly unconnected half has the reclusive Cornelius Fortune, aka Furnace-Breath Nick, doing his daring rescue and trying to find out about various mysteries, which do all come together at the very finish. We are allowed one steamman only, which is not quite enough for the most memorable feature of the first novel. Some editing and a brisker pace would have worked wonders with what is after all supposed to be an exciting adventure story.

The Book

Voyager (HarperCollins UK)
6 May 2008
YA / Adult Fantasy - Fantastic Location
More at US || UK

The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2008
© 2008