By Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
An informative author’s note points toward Mayan mythology and culture as the foundational inspiration for the setting, along with elements of Hinduism and early Mesopotamian culture, and the resulting mosaic of a world is fascinating in its intricacy. The turtle-eat-turtle island structure calls up Philip Reeve’s predatory mobile cities (in Mortal Engines, BCCB 3/04, etc.), but the revelations behind the source of Hell and Deep Hell add a spiritual element not often explored in YA literature. Well-developed characters match the complex setting: both Tenjat and Eflet are refreshingly flawed, often fumbling toward understanding and repeating mistakes as they adjust to new information. Everyman Tenjat in particular offers a nice alternative to the superiority of the “chosen one” trope. Fantasy and speculative fiction fans are the obvious audience here, but readers of historical fiction or those interested in a more anthropological take on the battle between good and evil may find this to their liking as well.