Friday, June 04, 2010

Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve


FEVER CRUMB is set many generations before the events of Mortal Engines, in whose dazzling world huge, predatory cities chase and devour each other. Now, London is a riot-torn, ruinous town, clinging to a devastated landscape and hiding an explosive secret. Is Fever, adopted daughter of Dr Crumb, the strange key that will unlock its dangerous mysteries?

So far I've only read the first in the Mortal Engines series but was drawn to this as, although in the same fantasy world, has a whole new set of characters. Fever, found in a basket as a baby, has lived her whole life in the head of a statue. This head houses the engineers of which her adoptive father is one so naturally Fever followed in his teachings. She has shunned hair (irrelevant) and emotions (ridiculous) and is content in a world of logic. However, an eccentric and minor archaeologist called Kit Solent asks the engineers for Fever to help him in his work. Fever's emergence into London society sets off a chain of events which develop at an alarming speed.

Initially I must admit that Fever reminded me a little of Spock with her belief in all things rational but as soon as she meets Kit and his two children her struggle with the logic and emotions becomes endearing. She begins to remember things that she can't possibly know: rooms she's never seen and people she's never met. Unbeknownst to Fever and Kit, she has been noticed and Londoners believe her to be Scriven; a race that controlled London and were eventually overthrown. Any Scriven that appear in London are to be hunted and killed by the Skinners or rather the last remaining Skinner, Bagman Creech. Due to his age he now requires a boy to help him which is where the loyal and endearing Charley Shallow comes in. He shadows Bagman and takes his position of Skinner's apprentice very seriously.

It becomes apparent that Kit has a hidden agenda that Fever struggles to comprehend. The answers that she seeks take her all over London and beyond and all the while Bagman and Charley keep her in their sights. There are so many wonderful things about Fever Crumb that I haven't the space to mention them all. The place names are pure genius: Ox-fart Circus, Chel's See and Pimlicker to name a few. Other parts of our life have survived into the era of Fever Crumb in a slightly twisted way such as the religious procession made up of people wearing, "Robes and pointed hats ... chanting the name of some old-world prophet, 'Hari, Hari! Hari Potter!' "

Although the story is full of fast-paced action it also has a thread of touching humanity running through it. I really felt Fever's confusion as she struggles with her identity. Kit, a wonderful father, is shown grieving for his dead wife. Dr. Crumb's story is also explored and it was a joy to see him change as the book progresses. Shrike makes his first appearance too and his story (before being turned into a Stalker) is both enlightening and desperately sad.

I'm always wittering on about covers but I must mention the limited edition hard cover which is gorgeous for those who like the illustrations of the Mortal Engines reprints.

This is the perfect introduction to the amazing world that Philip Reeve has created. Don't worry if you've never read any of his work before as Fever Crumb is a wonderful, action packed and touching story that can serve as a way in or as a new addition to those who have already read the Mortal Engines series.

1 comment:

Darren @ Bart's Bookshelf said...

I've just finished reading this one as well, I enjoyed it, but not as much as the original series. I think that this might be because it is aimed at a slightly younger age group and some of the wonderful complexity was missing.

Still interesting to see the birth of some of the original series elements though.