Once a steeplejack, Anglet Sutonga is used to scaling the heights of Bar-Selehm. Nowadays she assists politician Josiah Willinghouse behind the scenes of Parliament. The latest threat to the city-state: government plans for a secret weapon are stolen and feared to be sold to the rival nation of Grappoli. Their investigation leads right to the doorsteps of Elitus, one of the most exclusive social clubs in the city. In order to catch the thief, Ang must pretend to be a foreign princess and infiltrate Elitus. But Ang is far from royal material, and so Willinghouse enlists help from the exacting Madam Nahreem. Yet Ang has other things on her mind. Refugees are trickling into the city, fleeing Grappoli-fueled conflicts in the north. A demagogue in Parliament is proposing extreme measures to get rid of them, and she soon discovers that one theft could spark a conflagration of conspiracy that threatens the most vulnerable of Bar-Selehm. Unless she can stop it.
Firebrand (Steeplejack #2)Featured
An unforgettable installment in a mystery series
Now working as a private detective/spy, Ang may be living a financially healthier life than her years a steeplejack, but she’s in as much danger as ever. Political parties are clashing, some turning from very conservative to something darker, something much more extreme that puts people like Ang and many others in fear for their lives. Not to mention, refugees are giving their all to escape their war plagued country, but certain politicans will do whatever it takes to keep them out of the city. Ang must pose as one of the elite, fight old and new enemies, and navigate her own conflicting place in a dangerous world.
While Steeplejack had plenty of action, political intrigue, and mystery, Firebrand turns everything up by approximately 5 notches. Though this is an alternate history set in South Africa, it’s impossible to miss the parallels Hartley makes with contemporary world politics (and brilliantly so). This series is from Ang’s perspective, but I love how we see so many unique secondary characters ranging from inspectors to parliament members to governesses and more. Firebrand has one of the most complex and relevant settings I’ve read, and with each page, you’ll find yourself sinking deeper and deeper into the mystery plot.
As this is a series, Ang’s character arc was less arc-like and more building. She’s in a strange place, no longer welcome in a place she used to dwell, no longer part of the steeplejacks, but not part of any other class either. She finds herself facing tougher challenges, ones that make her question exactly who she is at heart. I can’t wait for the next book to see how her character develops more.
Told with a clear voice, emotional intensity, and heart-racing political plots that reveal the best and worst of humanity, FIREBRAND is an unforgettable installment in a mystery series that is sure to capture hearts.
Review also post at The Forest of Words and Pages: http://www.forestofwordsandpages.com/2017/06/blog-tour-firebrand-j-hartley-giveaway/