The Court of the Air, Paperback Book
3 out of 5 (10 ratings)


A hugely engaging adventure set in a Victorian-style world - a fantastical version of Dickens - that will appeal to fans of Susanna Clarke and Philip Pullman.Two orphans are more than they seem. And one megalomaniac will stop at nothing to find them...When Molly Templar witnesses a brutal murder at the brothel she has just been apprenticed to, her first instinct is to return to the poorhouse where she grew up.

But there she finds her fellow orphans butchered, and it slowly dawns on her that she was in fact the real target of the attack.

For Molly carries a secret deep in her blood, a secret that marks her out for destruction by enemies of the state.

Soon Molly will find herself battling a grave threat to civilization which draws on an ancient power thought to have been quelled millennia ago.Oliver Brooks has led a sheltered life in the home of his merchant uncle.

But when he is framed for his only relative's murder he is forced to flee for his life.

He is accompanied by Harry Stave, an agent of the Court of the Air - a shadowy organization independent of the government that acts as the final judiciary of the land, ensuring that order prevails.

Chased across the country, Oliver finds himself in the company of thieves, outlaws and spies, and gradually learns more about the secret that has blighted his life, but which may also offer him the power to avert the coming catastrophe.Their enemies are ruthless and myriad, but Molly and Oliver are joined by indomitable friends in this endlessly inventive tale full of drama, intrigue and adventure.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 588 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Historical adventure
  • ISBN: 9780007232185

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Showing 1 - 5 of 10 reviews.

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Review by

This has to be the most confusing book ever. Imagine a collaberation between Charles Dickens, Clive Barker and Philip Pullman.I'm really cross with myself for continuing to read the book in the vain hope it would start to make some sort of sense.

Review by

Worth finishing but didn't really deliver on it's promises. I liked the whole alternative reality Victorian Britain but not an island and with magic, weird technology and living robots. It got a bit much several times but the end was pretty good.

Review by

This is a big, sprawling, ambitious book that starts off as a Victorian penny dreadful about a pair of orphans having their worlds upended by a sinister conspiracy, enters a phase of Steampunk espionage and ends up with huge heroic battles against ancients evils via a critique of Communism.Like a Frakenstein Hunt has stiched together Dickens, The Difference Engine, The 39 Steps, Zorro, Wilkie Collins, Regency romances, American Pulp and the Penny Dreadful. And for the most part it really works. This whole complex alternative universe is imagined and its complex politics feeds into a conspiracy which gives the book the tone of a thriller.There are a few writing school moments where you get a chapter introducing you to something that you then see every chapter from that point forward. There are also few dangling references to things, everything has a way of being tidied up as soon as it is referenced. There are no threads that are left over once the narrative is wrapped up. There is not the sensation of being in a larger more complicated world that is hinted at as you get in Tolkien.The book also loses steam when the scene shifts from the low key hunters and hunted to the more epic battlefield sequences. It is probably a genre too far to also co-opt the Sharpe style of book!But overall I salute its ambition, richness and variety of subject, the pace of its narrative as well its measured and satisfying writing.I also have to say that I am immensely glad that the lure of the trilogy has been avoided and instead you get a long but self-contained novel.

Review by

I really enjoyed this book and thought there were some original ideas in there. It was quick paced, not boring and I got through it easily enough, and I liked the characters. However, most of the time I was confused as to what was going on. As soon as I got my head round who one group was, another faction would turn up. there seemed to be a lot of assumption on the author's part that the reader would always know who or what he was talking about, not realising we are new to this world. It does say something about the quality of the writing though, as this did not take away from from my general enjoyment of the story. I think to fully appreciate this book, you have to remain focused, and perhaps re-read it.

Review by

Had a decent editor reined in the author this could have been great; fast-paced action in an imaginatively realised world. Instead the reader is on the receiving end of a torrent of half-thought ideas, many seemingly borrowed from elsewhere ('The Invisibles' springs to mind). Ultimately unsuccessful, a real shame as there was a lot of potential here.

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