Sarah McDuling, the fearless editor of Booktopia’s Young Adult Buzz, takes a look at the latest offering from author Skye Melki-Wegner.
I’m not really sure how to categorise Chasing the Valley. Unless “Phantasmagorical” can be considered a category?
No? Okay, fine. Categorise this: An insanely glorious blend of Steampunk Adventure and Dystopian Fantasy with a touch of Romance and the promise of a great series to follow. In other words… awesome! That’s Chasing the Valley for you, in a nutshell.
Our heroine here is plucky orphan girl, Danika Gylnn. Along with a rag-tag group of rebellious teens, Danika runs from a life of poverty and oppression in the slums of the city, striking out in search of a legendary safe haven. Their destination is a place called Magentic Valley, however, no one really knows where it is or how to get there. In lieu of an actual map, the refugee teens must rely on folk lore and faith (and a touch of magic) to get them to “The Valley”.
Chasing the Valley has everything. A courageous heroine, a charming thief, a dashing pilot, a scary smuggler and even (slight spoiler alert) royalty in disguise! I love royalty in disguise. Princes and Princesses masquerading as normal people? Yep. That stuff never gets old, as far as I’m concerned.
Chasing the Valley is set in a fascinating world full of spectacular imagery. The whole time I was reading, I was reminded of Hayao Miyazaki films like Laputa: Castle in the Sky and Spirited Away. Blending traditional elements of fantasy with World War II era technology results in an explosion of pure whimsy.
This is a world where everyone is born with a Proclivity – a mystical ability to control elements of the natural world. This is also a world where fighter pilots drop Alchemy bombs on cities, and people ride genetically engineered foxes. We’re talking giant foxes here people! Big enough to ride like horses! How cool is that? I want one.
Chasing the Valley is a non-stop, action-packed adventure from the first page to the last. I really can’t remember the last time I read a book so quickly. I was literally unable to put this one down. Skye Melki-Wegner is an exciting new Australian talent and I can’t wait to see where she takes this series.
Sarah McDuling is a contributor to the Booktopia Blog and Editor of the Booktopia Young Adult Buzz. Her hobbies include (but are not limited to) sword-fighting, ghost hunting and lion taming. She is also an enthusiaster fibber. You can read her other posts here or see her tweet about all things Young Adult-ish at @sarahmcduling