Book Review: Updraft by Fran Wilde

Spoiler alert: I freakin’ loved this book. Secondary world fantasy is my go-to subgenre, and anything to do with flying, even if it’s not explicitly aeroplanes will capture my interest, so I was already interested. When a friend read it and said it was amazing, I bumped it to the top of my reading list, and do not regret it.

It’s a fantastically imaginative world – there are towers that rise above the clouds that people live on, made of bone, and to move about, people fly on wings made of silk and bone. The clouds, as far as I can tell, never disperse, and no one flies below them on purpose – in fact, their methods of exacting capital punishment is to strip someone of their wings and drop them into the clouds. Their mythology is all about how they rose above the clouds and how terrible it was before that, and their religion uses the threat of stopping a tower from growing taller to keep it above the clouds to keep it’s people in line.

I’m a sucker for imaginative worlbuilding, so all of this drew me in. The main character is also dark skinned, so POC representation there. The original cover didn’t show the main character’s skin colour so much, but the newer cover that I got did, and I like that cover a lot better.

Plot wise, character wise – everything was great. I was thoroughly enthralled by the world, the characters, everything.

The other thing I wanted to mention is I have a sneaking suspicion that the author has at least some little bit of aviation experience. I can’t tell how much, and I haven’t been able to find anything in any of her bios that mentions aviation involvement. But there was little things – the sort of things that creep into my own writing because I can’t stop it, having the background in aviation that I do. The one that stands out was a mention of the rules of right-of-way being part of the flight training. But the whole idea of flight testing that comes up in the opening made me feel like even though the flight testing in the book doesn’t go the way flight testing does in aviation, the worldbuilding might have been guided or inspired by some knowledge of it.

But anyway, it was fantastic, I loved it, and you should definitely read it, and I’m really excited to start the next book.

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