the Little Red Reviewer

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Agatha H and the Clockwork Princess (a Girl Genius novel) by Phil & Kaja Foglio

published in 2012

where I got it: purchased new

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First there was the webcomic.  then came the graphic novels (identical to the webcomic, just in printed form). Now there is the novelizations.

That could too easily be a recipe for disaster, but this is the team of Phil and Kaja Foglio. Disaster isn’t in their vocabulary. Not satisfied with developing the Hugo award winning Girl Genius comic series, they’ve dived headfirst into writing the novelizations of the comics. (read my review of the first novel, Agatha H and the Airship City, here) Not interested in webcomics or graphic novels? You should still pick up their Agatha Heterodyne novels. Why?  Because they are simply fantastic. These books have it all: characters with incredible depth, humor, doomed romances, hysterically ridiculous mad science, more humor, family secrets, excellent dialog, circus folk, monsters, and an all around good time. You will have a smile on your face the entire time you are reading these novels.  Don’t get me wrong, the graphic novels are great (I own them all), but the novels are even better.

In a semi-fictitious Europe, those with the ability to breath life into machines are known as Sparks. Being a Spark isn’t always a good thing, because they are so intent on making amazing creations that they often don’t realize last week’s amazing creation has burned down the village. Some Sparks hide their abilities, others survive by volunteering to work for the powers that be.

Agatha H and the Clockwork Princess is the second book in this series, and it picks up right where the first book, Agatha H and the Airship City left off. Along with the talking cat Krosp, she’s escaped from Baron Wulfenbach’s flying castle, learned who her parents really are (the famous Bill Heterodyne and Lucrezia Mongfish), and discovered that she is indeed, a very powerful Spark. It doesn’t matter that she’s developed some pretty strong feelings for the Baron’s son, Gilgamesh, as she’ll probably never see him again anyway.

Alone in the forest, she comes across a traveling circus, who allow her to travel with them.  Agatha doesn’t tell the troupe who she really is, and they are hiding their own secrets. The troupe puts on what are known as “Heterodyne shows”, with the actors performing the madcap adventures of Bill and Barry Heterodyne, and their sidekicks Klaus and Lucrezia. It sure is uncanny how well Agatha can imitate Lucrezia on stage! She sounds just like her!

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Agatha H and the Airship City, by Phil & Kaja Foglio

Published in 2011

Where I got it: purchased new

Why I read it: I adore the Girl Genius Graphic Novels


I don’t remember the last time I smiled so much while reading a book.

I’m nervous to simply call Agatha H and the Airship City a novelization of the first three volumes of Girl Genius (reviewed here), perhaps it’s more of a companion?  Yes, the plotting and characters are the same, practically word for word,  but the novel gives you much more background on just about everything – the state of the world,  the characters, and most importantly exactly what a spark is. Can you enjoy Agatha H and the Airship City if you haven’t read the graphic novels? Absolutely and vice versa. The novel offers all those little details that there simply isn’t room for in a graphic novel, and this is much appreciated as the pace of the early graphic novels is fast and furious.  If you enjoy humor, adventure, light romance, you will simply adore this book.

Did I mention it’s hilarious?

Agatha Clay is a frustrated student.  Nothing she builds ever works, and when she tries to think  through mechanical problems she gets headaches. It’s amazing she hasn’t been fired from her job as lab assistant at Transylvania Polygnostic University. The day of Baron Wulfenbach’s surprise visit to the lab coincides with a strange apparition in the sky and the last regular day of Agatha’s life. In a case of very (very!) mistaken identity, Agatha finds herself a guest/hostage of Castle Wulfenbach, a giant floating dirigible and the mobile center of the Wulfenbach empire.

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thanks to TJ at Dreams and Speculation and her article on graphic novels at Dirty Sexy Books for getting me to write an article on Phil and Kaja Foglio’s Girl Genius.

I’ve been working on this article for like three days, and I’m finding it very hard to talk about Girl Genius. Why? Well, I read a lot of dark and tragic stuff. plenty of magic, plenty of violence, plenty of really bad guys, a bare handful of good guys and lots and lots of melancholy. So that’s what I’m used to writing about.

And Girl Genius by Phil and Kaja Foglio is the opposite of all that. It’s a sex comedy with mad scientists and shy students and sentient castles and blimp cities and monster soldiers who have crushes on  monster construct nannies. It’s a riot of science and smarts and silliness and romance and adventure. It’s got it’s own mythology and it’s own cult following. It makes me giggle uncontrollably and want to sign up for Steampunk conventions. Yes, that Phil Foglio of What’s New with Phil and Dixie and Mythadventures.  umm, and SPANC.

and you should be reading it.

AND, I’m even going to tell you what it’s about! Or at least the first three volumes, which I have in a super awesome omnibus edition. Read the rest of this entry »


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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.