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WesternSFA
The League of Seven
by Alan Gratz
Tor, $16.99, 352pp
Publication Date: August 9, 2014
Archie Dent is a ten-year-old living in an 1875 America where evil giants, known as  Mangleborn, threaten mankind. For centuries the Mangleborn have been held in check by the Septemberist Society but now they are rising into the human world via electricity with the help of Thomas Alva Edison.  Archie’s parents are members of this secret society but when they travel to headquarters to deliver a warning, they are taken over by Mangleborn elements.  Each generation has had a League of Seven to combat the Mangleborn and now Archie must form his own team, find the other six and, with the help of his Tok-Tok servant, Mr Rivets, act to save the world and his parents.

The blurb on the jacket says that Alan Gratz “began writing The League of Seven by listing all the things that ten-year-old Alan would have thought were awesome, including brass goggles, airships, tentacled monsters, brains in jars, windup robots, secret societies, and super powers.”  And he has certainly created a vivid Steampunk world full of wondrous creations – steam-run submarines, airships, Tik Tok servants who are programmed by plug-in cards. But the characters, especially Archie, are not quite as well developed and the horror, inspired by Lovecraft, and death could be too much for timid readers.  Parents may well wish to read this first if their children are easily scared.  Overall I recommend this and look forward to the next installment. ~~ Stephanie L Bannon

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