Girl Genius 4: Agatha Heterodyne and the Circus of Dreams
Agatha Heterodyne encounters a brand-new group of terrific characters in this chapter of the “gaslamp fantasy” series by Phil & Kaja Foglio, Agatha Heterodyne and the Circus of Dreams.
Agatha has escaped from the flying castle of Baron Wulfenbach (as seen in The Monster Engine). She’s accompanied by a grumpy talking cat that serves as comic relief. They quickly run into a traveling caravan of show people, a group that provides a wonderful opportunity for the Foglios to sketch a wide variety of amusing larger-than-life personalities.
There’s the lead actress, ordering everyone around; a super-tough warrior queen from a lost civilization; the large-bodied ringmaster; the skilled mechanic; the adorable child with the big mouth; and many more. The circus resists getting involved with someone running from such a powerful man, but Agatha’s surprising mechanical knowledge and good heart wind up convincing them she’s worth the risk.
There are surprises, humor, intrigue, and adventure beyond every page turn. The characters double-cross both each other and the reader, making for an exciting read that’s hard to put down. I loved finding out “what happens next?”
There’s also a backup story that demonstrates the appeal of Heterodyne Boys tales in inspiring the imagination of those that hear them (while making fun of fan authors using Mary Sues).