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by Kenneth Oppel

Published by Eos / HarperCollins, 2004
355 pages
ISBN: 0-06-053180-0

Ages 11 - 14

There is something comforting about the familiar feel of this novel, yet its wholly original elements make it fresh and engaging. Canadian author Kenneth Oppel has created a conventional Victorian-era adventure story infused with fantastic elements that defy scientific laws. The characters are somewhat predictable: Matt, who discovers danger and intrigue at every turn; his female sidekick, Kate, whose intelligence and natural curiosity belie her frilly appearance (their romance, of course, is inevitable); a wise old ship’s captain; and pirates who pillage and kill. But these characters interact against a backdrop that defies any known time or place. The bulk of the novel takes place on an airship. Great technical details explain how the ship works and reveal Matt’s passion for a career on board. There is a mystery that centers around a mystical species of animal called a Ghost Cat, a giant flying mammalian beast. If Kate can prove it exists, her grandfather’s death might not have been in vain. The writing is flawless, and the quick cycles of tension and resolution are satisfying in a story that leaves itself wide open for what would be a welcome sequel. CCBC categories: Fiction for Children.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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