BookPage Teen Top Pick, June 2016
The best imaginary worlds give readers the opportunity not only to enter a different realm but also to consider how that imaginary world reflects or distorts our actual one. Few novels have tackled this as skillfully as Steeplejack, the young adult debut by bestselling author A.J. Hartley.
Set in a world that looks very much like an alternative historical version of South Africa, Steeplejack tackles head-on the kinds of bigotry, class and race warfare, and identity politics that are all too relevant in the real world. This social commentary is placed in the context of a thrilling mystery plot, investigated by a truly unforgettable heroine.
Anglet Sutonga is a steeplejack, one of the best climbers the city of Bar-Selehm has ever seen. But when the boy picked to be her next apprentice dies in a fall, Ang is convinced not only that his death was no accident, but also that he is somehow connected to the sudden disappearance of the Beacon, Bar-Selehm’s greatest treasure, a hunk of priceless luxorite. Soon Ang, like the city itself, is caught between different factions and racial groups, each blaming the other for the city’s mounting problems, each convinced the other has something to hide. Ang must discover new reserves of strength, especially when she faces a very personal betrayal.
Steeplejack is quietly thoughtful and breathlessly exciting, and with two more series installments to follow, Ang’s personal and professional journey is far from over.