5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads
I read and reviewed Leviathan, the first book in this series, last year as part of Sci-Fi Month. The book had been sat on my shelf for some time, and I almost returned it to the library – but luckily I didn’t, because after reading Behemoth I’m pretty sure the Leviathan series is going to end up being a new favourite.
Unlike the first book in the series, much of the action in Behemoth takes place on the ground. This also allows the reader to catch more of a glimpse of the ‘Clanker’ side of life: we see walkers used to guard the ghetto, scarab beetle taxis, elephantine transport and a giant mechanical ‘sultan’ puppet. Each new reveal of technology fascinated me, and accompanied by the gorgeous illustrations (once again provided by Keith Thompson), Alek and Deryn’s world really began to come together.
The majority of the story was set in Constantinople/Istanbul, which opened up the opportunity to introduce some new characters. Alek and Deryn meet a group of people taking part in a revolution, most notably Zevan and his daughter, Lilit. Lilit is seen as ‘unusual’ by Alek, a girl who is trained to fight and do typically ‘unladylike’ things, which only makes Deryn more confused and unsure about revealing her true identity. Yet her feelings for Alek are becoming more and more clear, making things difficult – especially when he teases Deryn about Lilit’s feelings for her. And whilst Alek is convinced that Lilit has a crush on ‘Dylan’ (Deryn’s male identity), something Lilit says later on makes it quite clear that she knows Deryn’s secret – and that makes no difference to her attraction towards Deryn.
One of my favourite parts of the book was the introduction of the perspicacious loris, a fabricated beastie hatched by Dr. Barlow, who latches on to Alek. This adorable creature learns as it observes, often repeating snatches of conversation or useful words. In fact, the loris even catches on to Deryn’s secret, frequently saying”Mr. Sharp!” and then giggling. We also get to see that Deryn isn’t just street smart, but smart smart. After spending some time around Alek and his companions, she starts to pick up German (or ‘Clanker’) at great speed, and by the end of the book is able to have fairly complex conversations.
I loved Behemoth just as much as I loved Leviathan, and do not for a moment regret picking up this series. A wonderfully imagined alternate history with some fantastically developed characters await you in this book – along with some truly gorgeous illustrations.