Stephen Hunt - reviews and media coverage.

Here's a selection of some of the praise and press mentions Stephen's fiction has collected over the years in the press.

The Court of the Air (Fantasy)

The Bookseller: Bookseller’s Choice for April 2007 (Review: Hardback edition, The Court of the Air)

'A crossover title in the vein of Philip Pullman … more straightforward and much easier to read than Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell … a genuinely engaging read, which has believable characters in a fantastic setting. The Dickensian references are a big selling point… It’s an intriguing and original idea which the author has managed to pull off rather well.’

Iain Emsley - April 2007 (Review: Hardback edition, The Court of the Air)

'The book starts out as a fantasy but moves into the rollicking adventure stories in the fashion of Kipling. It reminds me a little of the joyousness of Perdido Street Station and the uncertainties of Pullman’s His Dark Material trilogy. Hunt moves the story along with verve and creates a believable underbelly which writhes and squirms. The devil is in the detail and here Hunt excels delivering a rattling yarn without ladening the reader with exceptional detail or ordure. What is frustrating is the abrupt change in politics which occurs changing the tenor of the novel. The novel becomes more than the sum of its parts - adventure, horror, fantasy and media sf. It remixes each part and comes out with each part slightly fresher than before.'

Sue Davies - April 2007 (Review: Hardback edition, The Court of the Air)

Two orphans find themselves on the run from the authorities. Molly might be called a feisty and defensive redhead. She has her reasons. As a baby she was unceremoniously dumped on the step of the Poorhouse. She's been in trouble almost ever since. The Beadle despairs of getting his graft from her as he sends her out on yet another job.

Oliver is also a strange boy. Found after five years inside the Fey mist, he has been monitored ever since by the Worldsingers. Somehow he has always avoided being taken away to the Asylum or to become one of the Special Guard with a restraining torc. Oliver has his secrets not least his dreams being invaded by the Whisperer, a tortured fey-altered man secured inside the Hawklam Asylum. But it is only when the disreputable Harry Stave arrives that Oliver finds his old life is over and is on the run whilst hardly knowing why.

Both of the orphans are flung into a world they know nothing about. They have help but who can tell which side all the players are on.

The world presented through this novel is at once familiar and yet comprehensively different to our own. The opening pages did not give any clues to the environment we have entered. Teasingly, Molly is presented as Little Orphan Annie complete with the defiant personality that marks her out as trouble with a capital T.

A great deal of thought has gone into creating a fantastical yet believable background to the adventures. The backdrop is at least as important as a character and it has to be a smooth transition from our world to theirs. This one packs in pneumatic towers, mechanical men and everyone's favourite aerostats.

Our world is safe and boring in comparison for this is a desperate place where even the words 'constitutional monarchy' is a vicious understatement of the ghastly truth. Hunt has included another favourite of fantasy writers the availability of crystal grids and the treatment of the land as a living entity and this conception of the background is a intricate and involving process so that we can drop painlessly into this world and feel almost comfortable.

So to the cast of characters who are linked by necessity and drawn to each other as the plot progresses. There are quite a few of them and teasing out the links takes thought. Supporting cast is neatly drawn and although time is short with them there is enough there to get a feel for who they might be. The main characters are harder with the necessary internalisation developing more towards the end of the novel. I feel they have a lot of growing to do and may need some further time to do that.

I liked the world that this novel is set in. Its danger and despair tempered by the exhilaration of the battle. Hunt is not afraid to decimate his characters neither and there is no mincing about with this. It is a gutsy and full-blooded story with some pretty nasty detail unflinchingly presented. There are some superb larger-than-life characters and also the quiet and unassuming steam-men on whom so much hangs.

Whilst this is a tale of derring-do, it does not concentrate on swords and sorcery. There is some sparkling witty dialogue and coy politicking too. There is noble sacrifice and the bloody nose of defeat. I enjoyed it so much I read it twice. Both a tale of great adventure and a dark comment on the danger of fundamental politics; take from it what you want or what you need.

SFX magazine: April 2007 (Two Page Interview with Stephen Hunt)

Stephen Hunt talks to SFX about his new novel The Court of the Air and where he gets his inspiration from.

LBC Radio: April 5th 2007 (Broadcast Interview with Stephen Hunt)

Stephen Hunt talks to LBC's Adrian Allan about his fantasy novel The Court of the Air and the joys and pains of the path to publication as a novellist.

The Times April 7, 2007 (Review: Hardback edition, The Court of the Air)

"An inventive, ambitious work, full of wonders and marvels."

SFX magazine: May 2007 (Review: Hardback edition, The Court of the Air)

"Hunt can take his place alongside such eminent Magratheans as JRR Tolkien, Mervyn Peake and China Mieville. Creating a fully-realised other-world which feels new and different, yet cohesive and believable is half the battle in a fantasy novel, and it is a battle Hunt wins with honours... Hunt's world is so rich and colourful it keeps you engrossed ... It's a confident audacious novel."

The Guardian: April 21st 2007 (Review: Hardback edition, The Court of the Air)

"The characters are convincing and colourful, but the real achievement is the setting, a hellish take on Victorian London where grim, steam-driven machines work beside citizens with magical powers. The Court of the Air is aimed at young adults, but the depth and complexity of Hunt's vision makes it compulsive reading for all ages."

Death Ray: June 2007 (Review: Hardback edition, The Court of the Air)

"Creatures of magic movie in an industrialised landscape; mechanical men with souls appear in Punch-style political cartoons. He creates a fantasy world that's low on cliché, splicing trad fantasy with steampunk and a touch of Philip Pullman...with pace, detail, and the pleasure of its sheer scale."

Starburst: June 2007 (Review: Hardback edition, The Court of the Air)

"Hunt tells his full-blooded tale with lip-smacking relish, revealing a vivid, often gruesome imagination. The Court of the Air brims with originality and, from the first, its chase-filled plot never lets up."

The Newcastle Herald (Australia) (Review: Export edition, The Court of the Air)

‘Hold on to your hat for a frenetic ride through a fantastic world that is a mind-boggling and hypnotic mixture of the familiar and the bizarre… The Court of the Air is a tour de force of the imagination. Fast paced with a cast of interesting and beguiling characters.’

Time Out: August 2007 (Review: Paperback edition, The Court of the Air)

‘Wonderfully assured … Hunt knows what his audience like and gives it to them with a sardonic wit and carefully developed tension’ (Review: Paperback edition, The Court of the Air)

A compelling fantasy set in a Victorian-style world of airships and intrigue, this book is a real gem. One of those where to talk about it is to spoil it. A big book that rattles along excitingly and contains a few good surprises ... in fact older Harry Potter fans will love it. It’s the kind of book that makes you want to jump up and down and press it onto all your friends. Absolutely wonderful.
- Sarah Broadhurst (ex-buyer, Hatchards)

Historical Novels Review: August 2007 (Review: Paperback edition, The Court of the Air)

To date, this has to be the best book of 2007 as far as I am concerned. Think Joan Aiken for grown-ups, with echoes of Susanna Clarke and various other talented crossover writers and you are there ... It might just be the book for you if you are thinking of branching out from reading mainly historical fiction, and wondering what else is out there. Not a lot of this calibre… hugely enjoyable.

Albedo One, Ireland's magazine of science fiction, fantasy and horror: Issue 33 (Review: Paperback edition, The Court of the Air)

Fast-paced and accelerating all the way, the story rewards reading with close attention, to the intricacies of the plot, to the creativity in world-building and language which makes this world both readily comprehensible and yet enthrallingly strange.

Other Media Coverage

Library Journal

The US Library Journal brings you the 13 core steampunk novels you can't understand the genre without (Court of the Air)

Wall Street Journal

As I am wont to do, I was reading my news when I saw an article in the Wall Street Journal which made my jaw drop! I flipped over to an article titled Why Steampunk's Time Has Come. (Court of the Air credited for starting the current steampunk craze)

Mr. Hunt's is quite the whirliest of contemporary cross-pollinated steampunk visions, says the Wall Street Journal, with enough in it to keep three or four ordinary books going.

The Accidental Steampunk

The Stephen Hunt eBook Survey

Buying ‘direct from the farm’

A new look at e-book habits

The majority of SF readers now use ebooks

Some larger sci-fi publishers are taking cues from publishers like Baen.

BBC - Fantasy and science fiction campaign

85 authors have signed a joint letter of protest sent to BBC Director General Mark Thompson, complaining about the Beebs’s shabby treatment of genre fiction during last month’s World Book Night coverage.

BBC to broadcast science fiction on Culture Show, in the wake of fantasy author Stephen Hunt's row over genre fiction.

Online SFF Reviewers

Review: The Kingdom Beyond The Waves

"If the rest of this series follows along the same lines as these first two books, it is going to continue to be an excellent option for those of our readers who enjoy the more fantastical premise in their reading.";story,200;Review:-The-Kingdom-Beyond-The-Waves---Stephen-Hunt

Review: The Kingdom Beyond the Waves

"These books really are a pleasure to read, and I am trying to save the other two instead of insanely gobbling them down."

Review: The Kingdom Beyond the Waves

"The Kingdom Beyond the Waves is a book worth reading, and worth reading more than once. I am proud to have it on my bookshelf, and am looking forward to any other books Hunt may write."

Review: The Kingdom Beyond the Waves

"I find it incredibly fun to visit this place and look forward to future adventures… Rating: 4 out of 5. A solid, exciting yarn."

Review: The Kingdom Beyond the Waves

"Hunt has produced a highly entertaining story combining both magic, machines, and morals, a fantasy adventure masking a between-the-lines lesson on society and the price v. value of peace. "

Review: The Kingdom Beyond the Waves

"Set in an Earth that could have been, Hunt mixes machinery, magic, and a dizzying assortment of races with alacrity."

Review: Secrets of the Fire Sea

"Hunt delivers a read which is thrilling and is aware of the genre’s short comings and clunkiness. His own fannishness comes through and he delivers a fine mash-up."

Review: Secrets of the Fire Sea

The author manages to keep a pretty complex plot under control and switching between the two threads allows both to explore more and more of the setting on Jago as well as advance the story sometimes in quite unexpected ways.

Review: Secrets of the Fire Sea

"Secrets of the Fire Sea is a fast paced, fun adventure set in an underground city surrounded by a boiling sea. It has smart, fully realized characters, it holds many surprises, and kept me glued to its pages."

Review: Secrets of the Fire Sea

All in all another terrific adventure tale from an excellent story teller. As a mystery it twists and turns well with enough surprises to keep you guessing.

Review: Rise of the Iron Moon

"Holt describes Hunt as Philip Pullman on benzedrine; I thought more Jules Verne on acid, myself, though I continue to detect influences."

Review: Rise of the Iron Moon

"The Rise of the Iron Moon is a fun tale. It's funny, its full of adventure and captures the spirit of Errol Flynn and Indiana Jones. It's coloured with splashes of fantasy, science fiction and steampunk."

Review: Rise of the Iron Moon

Craig Smith reviews 'The Rise of the Iron Moon'

Review: Rise of the Iron Moon

Awesome. An entire race of soul-posessing robots that don’t even come close to resembling Battlestar Galactica’s Skin Jobs.

Review: Rise of the Iron Moon

There was that cool turn-of-the-last-century looking steampunk illustration of an H. G. Wells-y looking spaceship on the cover.

Review: The Court of the Air

"He’s got a fine ability to present difficult ideas in very simple ways. It’s something I’m mightily jealous of as I struggle to put across my opinion of this book."

Review: The Court of the Air

"If you’re at all familiar with the steampunk genre, then you already know how awesome it is."

Review: The Court of the Air

I picked up a paperback copy of Steven Hunt's 'The Court of the Air' over the weekend, and I've spent the last four days reading it. It's one of the better books I've read in a while, and although I haven't read that many steampunk books, this is one of my favorites.

Review: The Court of the Air

To be honest, I’ve never read a good steampunk novel before. I had begun to think all steampunk was good for was some rather wonderful pc mods. Thanks to Stephen Hunt, though, I have high hopes for this slowly growing genre.

For the Crown and The Dragon (Fantasy)

CN Gilmore, Reviewer; Interzone & Foundation
Hunt has no lack of pace, colour ... there's enough battle, murder and sudden death for everyone.

Locus magazine
For those who like really old-fashioned adventure, this is an intriguing start to a new series and an impressive first novel.

Arcane magazine
Stranger and more cynical than a mere Sherwood Forest chestnut ... the raft of great characters have a black sense of humour to match.

The Guardian newspaper
A colourful, but tough and uncompromising first novel.

Stephen Hunt's novels - USA