Title: Agatha H and the Voice of the Castle
Authors: Phil & Kaja Foglio
Series: Girl Genius #3
Agatha has finally reached Mechanicsburg, the long-time home base for the Heterodyne family. But thanks to all the trouble she caused previously, the Baron Klaus Wolfenbach is recovering in the city’s Great Hospital and various factions, sensing an opportunity, are converging on the little town. In order to be recognized as a legitimate Heterodyne, Agatha needs to win over the Castle: a Heterodyne-built, intelligent castle that has had hundreds of years to collect unique and amusing ways to kill people. Oh, and somebody else has decided to claim she’s the actual heir. And the Castle isn’t quite working properly anymore . . .
With only a bit of a breath at the beginning, we dive right into all the fun. It’s been great to see how much these characters have been growing and changing. Agatha’s moved from an incompetent, fearful girl to a more confident and dangerous Spark. Gil lost much of his nicer side in the worry and has moved straight to intimidating and powerful (it’s amusing when he has the horrifying realization that he is, indeed, much like his father, and he now understands why his father can be as brutal as he often is).
And when Agatha and Gil cooperate on a medical experiment near the end . . . that was the highlight of the book for me. Two Sparks feeding off each other’s crazy ideas, who approach ideas that would horrify anyone else with a “Why not?” mentality, as well as a “There’s at least a chance this will work, so let’s do it!” mindset. Also, Von Zinzer’s existential crisis was very good (and given what he’s accidentally stepped into, will likely continue to be a source of amusement for a long time).
One more quote because it amused me.
Occasionally Gil looked at the silly doings and squabbles of the people around him and wondered if he was actually a member of the same species. He knew that this thought probably hit most people at some time in their lives, but Gil had the added factor of having a father who could easily have made it a legitimate question.
In fact, the only thing I really disliked about the book was the fact that it ends on a rather nasty cliffhanger, and there’s no prose sequel in sight (you can, of course, read the webcomic, but I am much fonder of the prose version, so I’d rather wait). I rate this book Recommended.