Bel Reviews: Megan Spooner's - "Skylark"

At the start of August there was a glut of new books on the shelves; most of them having rich covers and intriguing blurbs. The one I chose to give a chance was Skylark by Megan Spooner. I picked it up first for the cover, second for the blurb and third for grabbing me with the first page.

In a spectrum of purples and a collage of cityscape, forest and filigree iron work, my first impression was a positive one. On the bottom of the front cover there’s also a quote in what looks to be Latin (the google translator doesn’t like it though) that reads Vis in magia in vita vi ~ In magic there is power and in power, life.~

The blurb reads as such…

Her world ends at the edge of the vast domed barrier of energy enclosing all that’s left of humanity. For two hundred years the city has sustained this barrier by harvesting its children’s innate magical energy when they reach adolescence. When it’s Lark’s turn to be harvested, she finds herself trapped in a nightmarish web of experiments and learns she is something out of legend itself: a Renewable, able to regenerate her own power after it’s been stripped.

Forced to flee the only home she knows to avoid life as a human battery, Lark must fight her way through the terrible wilderness beyond the edge of the world. With the city’s clockwork creations close on her heels and a strange wild boy stalking her in the countryside, she must move quickly if she is to have any hope of survival. She’s heard the stories that somewhere to the west are others like her, hidden in secret—but can she stay alive long enough to find them?

This book reminded me of those wise quotes about following your own path and blazing your own trail, because that’s basically what Lark does for a large portion of the story. She learns to survive in an unknown environment, overcomes her fears and adapts in a mostly believable manor.

Some elements of Lark’s survival seemed a tad convenient but I was able to forgive this for the sake of the action sequences and the urge to turn the page to find out what happens next. The pacing varies, but is slowed only to create tension in a really effective way.

I was impressed by the vivid images of the ‘outside world’ through the eyes of a terrified Lark. The contrast between the City and the Iron Wood is quite significant, and speak volumes about the way they are ruled.

I keep trying to think of books or movies to compare Skylark to and the only thing that comes to mind is the slightly demented sequel to The Wizard of Oz, Return to Oz. Clockwork devices and people who aren’t what they seem are the main similarities.

Spooner is ahead of the curve when it comes to this breed of sci fi. She’s definitely a trail blazer and I look forward to reading the sequels Shadowlark and The Leaden Sky.

Hardcover, 344 pages

Published August 1st 2012 by Carolrhoda Lab

ISBN 0761388656 (ISBN13: 9780761388654)

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