By Philip Reeve
Published by Scholastic
ISBN 978 1 407186 77 1
Authors don’t often reveal the inspiration behind their novels, but Philip Reeve broke rank with this welcome addition to his Mortal Engines series of steam-punk adventures.
On the dedication page of his latest book Night Flights, Reeve writes: “To Jihae, who plays Anna Fang with such style and grace that I realised she needed some more stories.”
Jihae is the Korean actor who brings the character of Anna Fang to life in the new movie version of Mortal Engines . Her oh-so-cool portrayal of Anna clearly made an impression on Reeve, motivating him to take one of his series’ most fearless characters and finally put her at the centre of the action.
Mortal Engines is set in the distant future, when Earth has been devastated by an apocalypse. Cities like London have been installed with huge wheels, and they hunt the skies for any resource that will keep them going.
Anna Fang is a pirate, and as captain of the airship Jenny Haniver, she travels to wherever adventure and survival take her. She is also the ruthless leader of a rebel group named the Anti-Traction League, which fights against the almighty power of the mega-cities that rule the skies.
Night Flights sees Anna star in three stand-alone adventures of her own. In the first story of the book, Frozen Heart, Anna’s home city has been taken over by Arkangel, a powerful predator city, and Anna has been imprisoned – but she is determined to break free.
Stilton Kael, the son of the evil boss of Arkangel, selects Anna to help him build an airship that he wants to enter in a top air race. He can see she has excellent engineering skills – but he underestimates her cunningness, and that turns out to be a very serious mistake.
In Traction City Blues, Anna takes on the underground villains of London, and comes up against a deadly one-handed monster named the Stalker. And in the last story, Teeth of the Sea, Anna becomes a secret agent for the Anti-Traction League. Her mission? To destroy the once-French city of Marseilles.
Anna Fang is too strong a character to stay in the background of someone else’s story, and Philip Reeve serves her well in Night Flights, which is both beautifully written, and wonderfully illustrated by artist Ian McQue.
If you want to join forces with a fearless female adventurer, look no further than this book. It’s exciting to know you, Anna Fang!
John Millen can be contacted at [email protected]