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The Broken Lands by Kate Milford

The Broken Lands

by Kate Milford

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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I can't even begin to find a way to explain The Broken Lands to you. It's a prequel to Boneshaker and has a minor character from that book in a medium-sized role. It happens in late-19th century New York City and has card sharps, Chinese fireworks experts, devils, demons, and magic. It's such an amazing and perilous world and I absolutely loved it. There are also real cultural issues and complex war musings. It's another one of those books that has no target age group. It has elements of the fantasy, horror, adventure, and coming-of-age genres and is simply another amazing Milford story.

http://webereading.com/2018/02/the-broken-lands.html ( )
  klpm | Mar 2, 2018 |
I got an advanced reading copy of this book to review through the Amazon Vine program. I absolutely loved Milford’s first book, Boneshaker, and was so excited to read her next book. The Broken Lands doesn’t disappoint, it is supposed to be a prequel to Boneshaker and was an absolutely wonderful read.

This book takes place on Coney Island in the late 1870's. The main protagonists are a 15 yr old boy named Sam who is a card shark and a similarly aged Chinese girl named Jin who is a fireworks expert. Together along with the Pillars of the City they need to combat Walker and Mr. Bones and save the city from becoming the personal property of a devil-like creature named Jack.

This book was incredibly inventive with lots of colorful characters and fun details about pyrotechnics; I really enjoyed it a ton. This book, like the Boneshaker, is about the power of a crossroads (in this case the Brooklyn Bridge). This book also has a wonderful balance of darkness with humor.

Sam and Jin are both interesting and likable characters. A little romance happens between them and, as a result, this book has more romance than Boneshaker did and is probably aimed more at the YA audience than the middle grade crowd. Both protagonists have undergone incredible hardship in their lives, but rather than have that hinder them they have become stronger and more resourceful because of it.

Surrounding Sam and Jin are a wonderful array of quirky characters. Some of them not quite as human as they first seem and others wield more power than can be imagined.

The villains are also very well done. Walker and Mr. Bones are creepy, viscous, and just the perfect embodiment of evil. The mysterious Jack hovers over the story giving it a sense of urgency.

The plot is very well done, with multiple storylines weaving together to make one complete story. Milford has done some excellent research for this book. As the reader we learn a ton about Coney Island in that era, lots about cards and gambling, and a ton about fireworks. I especially loved reading about Jin and her pyrotechnics; I love the chemistry of creating brilliant colors from burning powders.

I just enjoyed everything about this story so much. I loved the interesting characters, the precise and easy to read writing style, the carefully crafted plot, and all of the fun tidbits you learn about the era and about fireworks themselves.

Overall this was a spectacular book. Fans of Boneshaker will be pleased with this book as well. A perfect read for those who like nostalgic fantasy with a dark tone to it. It’s a little bit paranormal, a little bit historical fantasy, with some wonderful mystery. Highly recommended to fantasy fans everywhere. ( )
1 vote krau0098 | Aug 21, 2012 |
This book is set in an alternate history New York of 1877 and populated with a diverse and appealing cast of characters. It’s a fantasy, a battle of good vs. evil, and a coming of age tale. And it’s magical. It captured me almost instantly.

A force of evil is coming to New York, and his advance troops- a couple of supernatural beings- are planning on delivering the city to him. But they aren’t the only supernatural beings in the city, and when some of them get wind of the plot, a small group forms to stop them. It’s a diverse group: people with magical powers, teen aged orphans, and a journalist who actually existed, Ambrose Bierce. The teenagers risk their lives numerous times and have a huge learning curve to develop the skills that will allow them to take on the evil beings, but while they question their ability to do the job (and their sanity for trying it), they persevere. It’s a large cast of characters, but the main ones are Sam, a 15 year old card sharp, and Jinn, a young maker of explosives who travels with a fireworks show.

Milford tackles –lightly- some of the social issues of the day that would have affected the characters, like race and class prejudice. Jinn is a Chinese girl, Sam is poor, one character is black and poor, and one half black- but thankfully she has money. Not that that protects her entirely from the nastiness of bigots. There is also the issue of how poor Chinese girls could end up treated when there was no one to protect them, feet bound and used as slaves. These things are treated casually and not much is made of them -it’s just how it was then – but it’s there. The author has not tried to clean up the world of 1877 and make it look like 2012, and I think that’s a very good thing.

The characters are appealing and well done, and the plot is compelling, but Milford’s genius is in description. The places come alive with sounds, textures and smells. The magic becomes real in her hands, and I was reluctant to leave her world when the book ended. ( )
  lauriebrown54 | Aug 18, 2012 |
Kate Milford is a wonderful writer. I enjoyed her first book tremendously which is why I'm quite cross at the moment with THE BROKEN LANDS.

BONESHAKER, you see, was wonderful. It had a great cast of characters --good and bad-- and it had a well paced story with a decided 'voice' and tone. THE BROKEN LANDS has interesting characters, but a bland tone and little voice. Overall, it felt like a fog of verbiage stood between me and all that went on in the story. Everything seemed overwritten, and much of it not all that crucial to moving the story ahead.

When brings me to the length. I know that long books are all the rage for middle-graders. But personally I grow weary of gratuitous length, and would add that if you are going to have lots of pages for this age group, for heaven's sake fill them action and not descriptions of architecture.

Not a book I'd suggest as a read for guys. Patient, mature readers (more patient than myself) might want to track this one down if they enjoyed BONESHAKER. The concepts are interesting, the characters okay. The story never quite grabbed me, but it's important to remember 'that not all books are for all people'. Some people, after all, don't like Shakespeare.

Pam T~

recv'd as ARC ( )
  PamFamilyLibrary | Aug 12, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kate Milfordprimary authorall editionscalculated
Offermann, AndreaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0547739664, Hardcover)

A crossroads can be a place of great power. So begins this deliciously spine-tingling prequel to Kate Milford’s The Boneshaker, set in the colorful world of nineteenth-century Coney Island and New York City. Few crossroads compare to the one being formed by the Brooklyn Bridge and the East River, and as the bridge’s construction progresses, forces of unimaginable evil seek to bend that power to their advantage. Only two orphans with unusual skills stand in their way. Can the teenagers Sam, a card sharp, and Jin, a fireworks expert, stop them before it’s too late? Here is a richly textured, slow-burning thriller about friendship, courage, and the age-old fight between good and evil.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:30 -0400)

"Set in the seedy underworld of nineteenth-century Coney Island during the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, two orphans are determined to stop evil forces from claiming the city of New York"--

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