Grade: To Own
Story: Conmen! Kiddnappings! Plots! Murderous geese!
Sequel to Fly by Night.
Review: Hardinge is one of the few living authors (added to the ranks of Megan Whalen Turner, and until lately Diana Wynne Jones) whose books I will buy without reading a single review or looking up any details of the book whatsoever. I have NEVER known her to write a book that I didn't love almost unreservedly, and this was no exception.
It had the best kind of characters: a plump middle-aged conman with a taste for long words; a strong-willed, black-eyed young ragamuffin with a tendency to change the fate of cities (described once as "This shivering, clench-jawed scarp of damp doggedness"); a goose who frightens even the most hardened of soldiers; plus a plethora of most excellent secondary characters.
It had the best kind of setting: a world of strange names and divided towns and evil locksmiths, of midnight pawn-brokers meetings, strange clawed girls, and invisible musicians.
Plus, in the words of the esteemed author herself:
"[I]t is an adventure story, a sort of crime thriller, with lots of lies, spies, double-crosses, triple-crosses, secret passages, and at least one chase through moonlit streets by lots of people disguised as skeletal horses."
(Taken from this interview: http://www.guardian.co.uk/childrens-books-site/2011/aug/12/fiction-prize-book-club-frances-hardinge?CMP=twt_gu)