The League of Seven is an imaginative mid school read featuring a wild steampunk world full of menacing monsters and soaring steamships. But oddly passive main characters rarely rise to meet the challenge of the worldbuilding and the horror is fairly disturbing.
In an alternate universe 1875 America, Archie Dent is the son of heroic parents: members of the Septemberist Society who have historically protected the Earth from the monstrous creatures known as Mangleborn. Although they have been suppressed for centuries, the mangleborn have found a new conduit back into the human world: electricity. The time has come for a New League of Seven: the heroes with unique abilities to appear when the world needs them most. Archie Dent always dreamed of being the leader of the League of Seven: fate may have arranged that he will assume that role and find the remaining six.
About half way through this novel, I realized I just wasn’t enjoying the story. Despite the very creative reimagining of the 1875 world, I didn’t get into Archie or the other characters. Gratz is a good enough author that he would take a very passive child and transform him through adversity into a hero. But that transformation was taking far too long and I had a hard time rooting for or understanding the character. Odd plot choices abounded – each one making Archie more of a unappealing, timid, crybaby than heroic. He falls asleep in great danger, doesn’t run or fight but goes along with the flow, cries and shuts down with adversity, and seems more like a seven year old than pre-tween. Perhaps that was more realistic when a child is confronted with horror situations – but then again, I don’t want realism in a fantastical steampunk world. And in other situations, the reactions were so odd and unrealistic that the lack of consistency kept throwing me out of the novel.
So for me, I was fascinated when the world was described; disengaged when the story turned to Archie Dent. The horror aspects were disturbing and a bit much for me as well. This is a book that I can see many enjoying; I just didn’t like the characters, felt there were some odd plot choices, and felt there was perhaps too much going on overshadowing the characters.
Reviewed from an ARC.