Audiobook Review: Agatha H and the Clockwork Princess by Phil and Kaja Folio

21 05 2013

Agatha H and the Clockwork Princess: A Girl Genius Novel, Book 2 by Phil & Kaja Folio

Read by Angela Dawe

Brilliance Audio

Length: 18 Hrs 35 Min

Genre: Steampunk

Quick Thoughts: This latest edition of the Girl Genius series is a highly original Steampunk tale so full of crazy adventures and wondrously horrifying creations that the pure enjoyment of the books just busts out of the cracks. There are some frustrating moments along the way, but Agatha H and the Clockwork Princess isn’t a rollercoaster ride, it’s a Runaway Spinning Cup Carousel of Death and Delights romp through a vivid alternate world.

Grade: A-

2013 Audie Nomination for Science Fiction

One of my favorite aspects about books is names. I love when writers seem to put a lot of thought into their characters names, and often get dismayed when authors seem to use cookie cutter names for their heroes and villians. Each genre has its own types of names. In thrillers, you want a name that is quick and forceful like a punch to the gut. You want Jack Reachers, and Joe Pikes. You want Jack Bauers and Sidney Bristows. These names are memorable, yet don’t take up too much space. You can often tell what kind of fantasy you are reading by the name of the characters. One of the first things that drew me to Stephen Donaldson’s series was his main character’s name, Thomas Covenant. Something about Biblical names has always tickled my imagination. Donaldson has some of the greatest character names, in my opinion, including one of my all time favorite fantasy characters the Giant Saltheart Foamfollwer. Then there is Steampunk. I am a recent convert to Steampunk, and one of my favorite aspects about the subgenre is the names. I love the battle between the classes, where the aristocratic types have flourishing, almost poetic names, the Royal names often have a warrior motif like Stormbringer, and they working class seem to have names that suit their role in society. The Baron Bagwell Von Newman liege of the mighty House of the Lightning King may employ a mechanic named Rivet. While all this is great, I often remember that my name is Bob. Yeah, Bob. When I was growing up, everyone was named an iteration of Robert like Bob, or Rob or hell, even Bert. Bob isn’t a great Steampunk name. If I was a Steampunk character my role would be to go up and down in water. So, maybe I’d be a buoy. I want a cool Steampunk name. One that shows I can fight off undead swarms, while making robot minions to do my wishes. After much thought, I decided my Steampunk name should be Triggerfist Clankbottom. It has strength, ingenuity and it sounds funny.

After learning the secret of who she really is, Agatha Clay and her talking cat companion Krosp are on the run from Baron Klaus Wufenbach in a stolen Airship. When she crashes into the Wastelands, she meets up with Master Payne’s Traveling Circus who agrees, after some bit of adventure, to allow her to travel with them to her home in Mechanicsburg, where her step mother told her to go. As Agatha becomes immersed in the Circus life, she finds herself wrapped up in an elaborate plan of dueling loyalties and family secrets that may rip away the new identity she only recently discovered.  Agatha H and the Clockwork Princess is another light hearted romp through and alternate Steampunk Europe where the toys of mad scientist have wreaked havoc on the local population. In many ways, the Girl Genius series is like a Steampunk playground full of hilarious monsters, mind bending contraptions, secret histories and ridiculous over the top evil plans. While listening, I kept wondering just where that maniacal laugh was coming from the entire time, and I realize it was coming from me. While this entry was full of so much great fun, there were also small issues along the way. I liked Agatha, but so did everybody else in the whole damn world. Princes and playboys fell for her innocent charms, to the point where it was just a bit obnoxious. Overall, the pacing of the story was awkward, with crazy moments of pure madness followed by extended scenes of dull. There were times where you felt every minute of the 18 hour production, and other times where the pace felt like it was in the hands of a crazed Time Lord. Yet, it was so much fun. The Folios did something here that rarely is done, they made the exposition actually uproariously hilarious, sometimes through malfunctioning fact spewing robots, and others through a series of fourth wall breaking tongue in cheek footnotes. It got to the point where something was mentioned in the book, and you were disappointed if there wasn’t a footnote for it. This latest edition of the Girl Genius series is a highly original Steampunk tale so full of crazy adventures and wondrously horrifying creations that the pure enjoyment of the books just busts out of the cracks. There are some frustrating moments along the way, but Agatha H and the Clockwork Princess isn’t a rollercoaster ride, it’s a Runaway Spinning Cup Carousel of Death and Delights romp through a vivid alternate world.

This is the final audiobook of my 2013 Armchair Audies listening experience and it was a heck of a great one to go out on. Angela Dawe gives a wonderful performance, again bringing all the crazy casts of humans, monsters robots and things in-between to life. Just her handling of the many fantastic names of the series made it work the listen. She truly put all of herself into the production, and all of Angela Dawe is a whole lot of good. I liked her ability to handle the footnotes in the tale, a pitfall for action packed fiction navels where pacing is so important. She read each footnote with a wink and a nudge then leaped back into the narrative with ease. It was a delight to listen to. It was one of the audiobook experiences where you just found yourself immersed in the world, with each character distinct and complete, where you didn’t even feel like you were having an audiobook read to you by a single narrator. Instead, you were there among the clanks and constructs enjoying all this world had to offer. This was truly an outstanding performance totally worthy of an Audie nomination.

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21 05 2013
Armchair Audies 2013 Wrap Up Post: Science Fiction | The Guilded Earlobe

[…] « Audiobook Review: Agatha H and the Clockwork Princess by Phil and Kaja Folio […]

22 05 2013
2013 Science Fiction Nominees and Reviews | The Armchair Audies

[…] The Guilded Earlobe […]

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