Arabella and the Battle of Venus
By David D. Levine
Hardcover, 416 pages
Arabella’s wedding to her beloved Captain Singh is disrupted when his ship is captured by the French and taken to their war camp on the swamp-ridden planet of Venus. Arabella finds passage aboard the ship of handsome privateer Daniel Fox, but is saddled with a chaperone, preventing her from resuming her comfortable life a ship’s mate and instead relegating her to the life of a lady passenger. In her impatience to reach her fiancé, Arabella makes a bet with Fox and finds herself building a clockwork navigational device in order to plot a faster route and often wonders if she’s truly up to the challenge. But once on Venus, Fox’s ship is taken prisoner and all aboard are stranded in the same war camp. There, Arabella finds her fiancé, but also the secret that the French army has been working so hard to hide – the ultimate warship. If Arabella and her friends can’t stop the French from completing the deadly airship, Napoleon could very well control the entire galaxy.
As you may recall from my previous review of Arabella of Mars, when I first picked up the book I thought it was already part of a series. I’m so pleased I didn’t have to wait a year before this actually became true!
Arabella is back and just as headstrong as ever. But in her quest to save her fiancé, she’s finding it difficult to get her way. Before she can escape Mars on any kind of ship, her brother forces a chaperone on her. Lady Corey prevents Arabella from donning her old uniform (a lady of quality does not scamper around in men’s clothing, how scandalous!) and instead forces her into a dress, which we learn is a huge pain in the ass when traveling in zero gravity. She struggles with reconciling her past experience as a crew member with being a mere passenger and as a sort of compromise, finds herself trying to out-navigate the captain of the ship.
Daniel Fox is a typical dashing rogue, and he does his best to charm Arabella, but we know our girl is too smart to fall for him…..right? Lady Corey starts out as a nuisance to Arabella (and me as a reader) but proves to be more stalwart and daring than she initially seems. Captain Singh doesn’t make an appearance until the latter half of the book and comes off very stiff until you find out his motives. I was sad that Aadim didn’t play more of a role in this book, or clockwork in general, because I friggen love clockwork stuff. Given Arabella’s amateur talent for clockworkery (yep!) and her father’s skill, I really thought we’d get more of that in this book and I was disappointed that didn’t pan out.
As usual, I had a hard time picturing a lot of the nautical –er- aerial battles, but that’s because my brain has no interest in absorbing information related to ships and I can’t fathom where anything is or what the directions mean. Hi, yes, I know I could learn these things, but I don’t wanna! The action is still fun and I still love that there are wooden ships that fly through space!
We also get more alien life in this book. Arabella grew up with Martians and doesn’t find their physical and cultural differences appalling as some do (cough-ladycorey-cough), so she adjusted well to the Venusians. Her acceptance of other cultures is a skill that pays off later in the book and I like that she’s an advocate for equality among different races, both alien and human (given that her fiancé is from India.)
I can’t wait to see what planet Arabella explores next and what events in history she moves through. If you enjoyed the first book, I’m pretty certain you’ll enjoy the sequel. If you’re looking for the start of a series that’s quasi-historical fiction with a swash-buckling Regency babe who travels on wooden airships through outer space, then you should be picking up the Arabella books.
Also, I was super excited when I was approached by Tor to be a part of this book tour, and not only did they send me the book, but they included an Arabella paper doll. I don’t know about you, but I’m super nostalgic for paper dolls and when my friend and I were cutting out the various dresses (and the numerous tabs) I was waxing poetic about all the awesome dolls I used to have. I figured my tea cubby was about as old-timey as my house gets, so that’s where Arabella got to model her outfits.
Check out the rest of the crew on the blog tour:
Novel Knight, A Thousand Books to Read, Papertrail YA, Life and Literature, Kelly’s Bookspill, Chapters We Love, Eileen Book Cat Pin, Away to Read, Halfblood Princess, Michelle Adams
I received this book for free from Tor Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions in this post are my own.