K.M. Weiland is releasing a new novel, Storming, to add to the wonderful collection of books she's already gifted us with. I love her nonfiction books on writing, and her fiction book Dreamlander was one of the most powerful persuasions to enjoy the fantasy genre that I have ever encountered. I think I didn't know if people could write like that anymore, until I met Katie. So when she asked me to review Storming, I squeed at my keyboard and said of course!
Sometimes Even Pilots Have to Wing It
Hitch thinks she’s nuts—until he steers his plane into the midst of a bizarre storm and nearly crashes into a strange airship like none he’s ever run afoul of, an airship with the power to control the weather. Caught between a corrupt sheriff and dangerous new enemies from above, Hitch must take his last chance to gain forgiveness from his estranged family, deliver Jael safely home before she flies off with his freewheeling heart, and save his Nebraska hometown from storm-wielding sky pirates.
Cocky, funny, and full of heart, Storming is a jaunty historical/dieselpunk mash-up that combines rip-roaring adventure and small-town charm with the thrill of futuristic possibilities.
The night I got Storming, I promised myself I would be good and get things done before I opened it. Well, I wasn't good, and the opening scene of a nighttime plane ride and a woman falling out of the sky sucked me right in to the adventure. Storming delivers the same Weiland trademark of vivid characters and masterful plotting that I've come to love and anticipate. It's a different flavor from Dreamlander--historical dieselpunk rather than fantasy--and as I've never read dieselpunk before, it took a while to grow acquainted with the flavor. While Dreamlander is a book where most of the story takes place in a rich new world, Storming is a book where an ordinary world full of biscuits and overalls has to grapple with the extraordinary invading. In some ways, I liked that just as much and even better.
Hitch's hometown Nebraska world was heartwarming. From the Berringer brothers feuding over tomatoes, to the rowdy air of an early 1900s airshow, to a little boy's starved longing for a dog and a plane ride, I loved the setting. Those gossipy, loyal towns with hurts to deal with and heart to meet them with always make me smile. Everyone from motherly Nan to stalwart Griff to that snake of a Sheriff Campbell are characters you love to love or love to hate as the story dictates. And I loved the little red Jenny plane, as good as a human character in her own right, almost as much as Hitch did.
Weiland narrates mostly inside Hitch's head and the little boy Walter's. She gave the narrative such excellent flavor, with Hitch's similes. Sure as gravy, burn like the devil's bacon. It feels like they come off completely naturally, though I'm sure in reality they took a lot of work to craft. She's good at making the narrative match the personality and education of the character, so that you know exactly who's picking up the point of view just by the way she writes.
And Jael herself. Fantastic example of a strong woman who doesn't need to be a brash woman to do pretty amazing things. She's a wing walker, and a pretty bold, brave lass with an endearing broken English way of talking. But she doesn't need to put down others to find her own strength. She's all about joining everybody's strengths together to get the job done. She really deserves to be in a top heroine's list.
The kissing scene is hilarious. I love the first storm ride with Hitch and Jael. The scene where Hitch takes Walter up in the plane. Earl trying desperately to get the Jenny running again after every escapade. Taos the dog. It's just one of those stories that's plain fun to sit down with. Rich, meaningful, well-crafted, heartwarming. I can't remember the last book where I enjoyed myself so thoroughly in the reading process.
And what a humdinger of a climax. I had no idea. No idea. The story up to that point had been a fun adventure, and any crisis points were more relaxing enjoyable than traumatizing. But she turned up the heat and saved the fireworks for the final show. Anything I could have imagined as far as the resolution of the theme and the final climax was wonderfully surpassed. I sat spellbound to my computer screen while I finished up the final chapters. My only worry--I knew that Weiland wasn't afraid to make tough choices, and I couldn't bear that this world I had come to know and love would be ripped apart by sorrow. But I also knew that whatever Weiland chose to do, would be deeply fitting and fully satisfying.
The only thing that threw me off at first was confusion over what the airship's purpose was. If I could have known the purpose a little sooner (I won't say, no spoilers) then it would have helped me mesh it with the Nebraska world a little better. But that was really all, and it got explained throughout the story. I also struggled a little with what the airship looked like, but that was simply because I wasn't familiar with plane terminology, so it was my knowledge rather than the book's writing.
The lessons of home, responsibility, adventure, and family were beautifully, beautifully done. Go read the book. That's all I can say. There's so much to love I could just keep listing it all, but it's much better for you to experience the heart-stirring, breath-taking moments for yourselves. Storming releases December 4th. Mark your calendar, scavenge about in your wallet to save for this new release, and don't forget to join the fun for giveaways and all sorts of book release party stuff at K.M. Weiland's website. Thanks to Katie for a free e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
P.S. I wish a replica of Jael's pendant was for sale. Because I would totally buy one to go along with the book. And how about a necklace with a Jenny pendant? Seems to me, we need some custom jewelry for this one. ;)