Girl Genius: Agatha H and the Voice of the Castle by Phil Foglio and Kaja Foglio

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Girl Genius: Agatha H and the Voice of the Castle by Phil Foglio and Kaja Foglio

Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Jones
Reviewed by Louise Jones
Summary: Agatha returns to her ancestral home-the warped town of Mechanicsburg - to take her place as the Heterodyne heir. But someone has beaten her to it...
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 600 Date: November 2014
Publisher: Titan Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1781166512

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Agatha H and the Voice of the Castle is the third novel in the Girl Genius series, adapted from the award-winning steampunk-style webcomic. Following the dramatic events of the previous two books, this volume sees Agatha returning to her family home in Mechanicsburg in order to claim her place as 'The Heterodyne'. She also needs to restore her war-damaged ancestral castle, which is in poor condition following a devastating attack by “The Other.” Of course, in the world of Girl Genius, nothing is straightforward and Agatha's mission is complicated by several things: the castle is a sadistic sentient being with a fractured personality; Agatha has a copy of her evil mother locked away inside her brain that could reappear at any moment AND a huge pink airship has just appeared in Mechanicsburg heralding the arrival of a fake Heterodyne heiress.

As can be expected from the Foglios, this latest book is brimming with humour, action and adventure, as well as some really inventive characters and contraptions. This is the world of mad science and sparks, after all. My favourite concept had to be the sentient castle, which has at least 12 separate personalities, varying from mildly unpleasant to seriously masochistic. The castle has a habit of murdering those foolish enough to enter, which is why it is currently being used as a prison for the Baron's more troublesome enemies. Getting inside is difficult enough, but getting out again is nigh on impossible; the castle has hundreds of ways to kill its unfortunate inhabitants and it gets a sick thrill from doing so.

We also have the arrival of Zola, the fake Heterodyne. She is very much an anti-Agatha character in both appearance and manner. Don't be fooled by the pink-princess exterior; Zola is a homicidal maniac who is almost as scary as the castle itself.

Compared to the previous two books, this volume is much longer, a massive 600 pages making it almost twice as long as the first book in the series. Sadly, I felt that the length of the book was its ultimate undoing, as it started to lose steam (pardon the pun) at about two-thirds of the way through. I was really enjoying the story up to this point, until it entered a VERY long story arc about one of the characters becoming ill and Agatha's attempts to heal him. This was an example of where the translation from webcomic to novel ultimately failed, as the gags are very visual. It just didn't work in a text format and the scene went on for much longer than it should have. Then, the story came to a sudden and abrupt end, with lots of plot threads remaining unresolved. This attempt at a 'cliff-hanger' ending was totally out of place, leaving me feeling cheated after investing so much time reading. The ending was deeply unsatisfactory, it felt forced and was the most disappointing aspect of the book by far.

I strongly feel that the book would have benefited from a shorter format. There is a natural break in the story at the end of chapter 7 which would have made a better ending and subsequently earned 5 stars from me. However, in its lengthy current format and with THAT ending, I have to lower my rating accordingly, despite being a huge fan of the franchise.

Bookbag strongly recommends reading the first two book in the series first, as there are a lot of characters and plot elements involved.

Read Girl Genius: Agatha H and the Airship City by Phil Foglio and Kaja Foglio first and then Girl genius: Agatha H and the Clockwork Princess by Phil Foglio and Kaja Foglio before starting on this book.

Buy Girl Genius: Agatha H and the Voice of the Castle by Phil Foglio and Kaja Foglio at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Girl Genius: Agatha H and the Voice of the Castle by Phil Foglio and Kaja Foglio at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Girl Genius: Agatha H and the Voice of the Castle by Phil Foglio and Kaja Foglio at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Girl Genius: Agatha H and the Voice of the Castle by Phil Foglio and Kaja Foglio at Amazon.com.


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