Spire City is home to mighty machines of steam power and clockwork, and giant beetles pull picturesque carriages over cobbled streets, but there is a darker secret behind these wonders. A deadly infection, created by a mad scientist, is spreading through the city, targeting the poor and powerless, turning them slowly into animals. A group of those infected by the serum join together to survive, to trick the wealthy out of their money, and to fight back.
Ausema’s elegant writing style, cleverly executed plotline, and thought-provoking ideas about the issues that face humanity when living in a totalitarian society—greed, chance, courage, perseverance, the sanctity of friends and family, and a desire to survive—make it quite an impressive series.
Batan’s Caper: As the members of the Weave try to help Chels through the initial stages of her infection, Batan decides they need a distraction. Two wealthy brothers who come through the area seem like the perfect targets of a con game that might bring in enough money to keep them all fed for months…if they don’t have to spend too much money to pull off the con in the first place.
The story of the second book is told through Bantan’s point of view. The readers get to see what is happening to Chels through the eyes of her friends. The infection is horrific and, as they gather around waiting to see what she will become, the strain on their group is palpable. Bantan, whose own infection has progressed to the point where he can only appear in human society bundled up to hide his features, decides that they need a distraction. He is pragmatic; Chels will either live or die from the infection, but without money for food they will all die.
I enjoyed this chapter. Readers not only get to see what happens when a person is infected, but they also get to see the reality of living on the street and scrounging for anything to put food on the table. Before he was infected, Bantan had a job. He was not one of the unwanted poor in the city. He might have been infected by mistake. Still, now that he is infected, he can no longer work and needs to survive by any means necessary.
Desperate to escape thinking about her newly infected body, Chels seeks an old friend of her mother’s, one of the city’s singers who live their lives chained to the spires so that their songs guide the city’s beetles through the maze of streets below.
This book is told from Chels’s point of view. Her infection has halted for now, leaving her with two tiny antenna that can be hidden under her hair and a few patches of skin that have hardened. She believes that she is turning into one of the beetles that transport goods and people all over the city.
Chels relationship with the singer in one of the Spires, Derran, is complicated. She believes he may be her father, and he treats her like a daughter, but she is forbidden to inquire about this. The readers learn more about the Singers as well. They seem to be slaves, chained in the Spires and forced to sing so that the beetles can navigate through the city streets. It is ironic, then, that the young woman Derran treats as his daughter may be turning into one of those beetles.
I enjoyed this chapter. It delves deeper into how the city is arranged and the purpose that the Singers serve. It gives the readers a better idea of the purpose of the Spires and how the beetles are used as beasts of burden.
I cannot wait for the next chapter to be released!