Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Richard Harland
For ages 14 and up
Unabridged audiobook (CD)
Performed/read by: Adrian Mulraney
Brilliance Audio, 2012   ISBN: 978-1743180914

Col Porpentine lives on an enormous juggernaut called Worldshaker. As a member of the Upper Decks class, he has lived a very sheltered and comfortable life, and no one is too surprised when Col’s grandfather, the Supreme Commander, decides to name Col his successor.

The classes on the Worldshaker are kept apart, Col’s elite class having nothing to do the other less elevated classes. He has never even seen one of the Flithies, the sub humans who live in Below, an area at the very bottom of the juggernaut. Then one of the Flithies escapes and she hides in Col’s room. When he sees her, Col is horrified, and when she speaks, he is completely flabbergasted. It would appear that the Filthies are actually humans. They can think and reason and learn. Riff even tells Col that she wishes she could read. She has never been able to because there are no books in Below.

Soon after being named his grandfather’s successor, Col is taken on a tour of Worldshaker. He is even taken to a viewing platform so that he can see Below, and he sees Riff’s home for the first time. To say that it is a terrible place is an understatement.

Up until now, Col has had a tutor educating him. Now though it is considered important that he attend school. Col is not there long before he comes to understand that the rigid class system is very strong in the school as well, and that the teacher is not actually teaching them anything. Eager to find out more about the real history of his people, Col and a new friend go to the library and ask Col’s old tutor for help. Who are the Filthies and how did they come to be living Below?

Then Col dares to go Below by himself to deliver a book to Riff and suddenly his place in society is not longer a sure thing. Though no one really knows why he went Below, his being there brings shame on his family. The strange thing is that Col cares less and less about this, and more and more about finding out the truth. What he discovers rocks him to his core. Could it be that everything he has believed in is based on lies and cruelty?

This incredibly powerful book combines steampunk, an alternate history of the world, and the story of a young man who has to accept that his world is not the wonderful place he thought it was. Instead, it is a place that is rife with hypocrisy, deception, and unspeakable suffering. Listeners will be appalled, fascinated, and keen to find out what happens next.