9 out of 10 – The Booklife Prize 2019
Plot:This novel is tightly plotted, and every tantalizing clue ultimately hangs together very well, without ever making the reader feel deceived. Readers will find themselves biting their nails worrying over how Paftoo and his horse will triumph, or at least survive. While not every question about the world, or even Harkaway Hall, is answered, most of the reveals can be attributed to Paftoo’s own limited knowledge.
Prose/Style:The prose in this book is engaging and evocative, conjuring striking images and surreal comic moments with equal skill.
Originality:The premise of a robot gaining and hiding sentience is not particularly new, but this was definitely a refreshing and remarkably human take on the concept. Using the connection with horses sets it apart from similar stories. Although this is a novel of ideas, it has its feet firmly planted in the pathos of an individual who cannot conform.
Character Development:The characterization of a mostly robot and equine cast is slow to build, but once it sets in, it works beautifully. Readers will find themselves cheering desperately for Paftoo, and may be surprised to be rooting for characters who started out as antagonists.
Blurb:A compelling tale about finding and keeping one’s soul, of the prices we pay for love, and how our worlds shape us and we shape them.