cover image Agatha H. and the Clockwork Princess

Agatha H. and the Clockwork Princess

Phil and Kaja Foglio. Night Shade (Diamond, dist.), $24.99 (280p) ISBN 978-1-59780-222-2

The second volume of the Foglios' (Agatha H. and the Airship City) conversion of their long-running Girl Genius comic into novel form continues to succeed in staying very close to the original while providing lots of bonus material for committed fans of the series, often in the form of footnotes containing self-referential wit and historical asides. For readers otherwise unfamiliar with the source, this zany and playful gaslight fantasy%E2%80%94full of "Adventure, Romance, [and] Mad Science!" (per the comics)%E2%80%94works successfully on its own. Spunky mad scientist Agatha Heterodyne and her talking cat companion Krosp, having crashed the dirigible with which they escaped the airship Castle Wulfenbach, hide themselves among the eccentric cast of Master Payne's Circus of Adventure, a traveling show presenting plays about the Heterodyne Boys, and attempt to be useful, without being discovered or recaptured, until they reach Mechanicsburg and Castle Heterodyne. Expansive descriptions of places and mechanisms, delightful characterization of creatures human, near human, and thoroughly mechanical, and an inventive, high-drama story line make this an immersive yet lighthearted and delightful bit of adventurous fun. (Apr.)