Set in the 1890s on the sovereign Saltee Islands off the Irish coast, Airman takes flight with its fine story telling and likable characters.
Conor Broekhart spends his days studying the science of flight with his tutor and exploring the castle with Princess Isabella until tragedy strikes. After discovering a deadly conspiracy against the king, Conor is wrongly accused of being a traitor and sent to the prison island of Little Saltee. Here, he fights to stay alive as he struggles to find a means of escape.
The story is engaging, with twists and turns to keep you guessing even when you think you know what’s coming next. The plot is well constructed and moves at a good pace. Each scene moves the story forward. I especially like Conor’s ability to think on his feet.
A few minor things I’d love to have seen fixed was the head hopping. Many times we started a scene in one persons head only to shift over in the scene and then back again. While it didn’t disrupt the flow of the story it was enough to stand out. I almost think fewer points of view might have worked a little better. My other complaint, and again this is minor and only happened a couple of times, but several scenes were told from one person’s viewpoint, and then immediately re-told from a different viewpoint. It slowed the pace in what was otherwise a strong novel. These are minor complaints, because honestly the story was really well told and held my interest from the get go.
When I started reading this book I couldn’t place it in a genre. I wanted to call it historical, since the story is based on historical places and people and facts. However, it had a strong fantastical feel to it, even though there was no obvious fantasy element. It drove me nuts just thinking about how I should classify this book. After a little bit of searching, I found a couple of people calling it Alternate History, and I that description is fitting. If you’ve read the book I’m very curious to hear your thoughts on this matter.
I know it’s a good book when I get agitated and am on the edge of my seat muttering that the reader (I listened to the audio) needs to read faster cause I can’t take the tension of not quite knowing what’s going to happen next. It definitely has the page turning quality you hope to find in every book you pick up.
When I read Elizabeth Bird’s review she summed up the book beautifully: “It’s a good old-fashioned tale of thwarted romance, betrayal, great heroism, murder, diamonds, villains, kings, Americans, thugs, and a boy with the unusual inclination to fly.” It’s all that and a little something more. Definitely worth the read.