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Engines of the Broken World

3.13  ·  Rating Details ·  211 Ratings  ·  91 Reviews
Merciful Truth and her brother, Gospel, have just pulled their dead mother into the kitchen and stowed her under the table. It was a long illness, and they wanted to bury her—they did—but it's far too cold outside, and they know they won't be able to dig into the frozen ground. The Minister who lives with them, who preaches through his animal form, doesn't make them feel a ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published November 5th 2013 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (first published February 23rd 2011)
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Katie Davies Shouldn't this have been marked as a spoiler ?
Champion by Marie LuThe Fiery Heart by Richelle MeadWorld After by Susan EeThe Naturals by Jennifer Lynn BarnesSentinel by Jennifer L. Armentrout
YA Books - Publishing November 2013
26th out of 46 books — 50 voters
Champion by Marie LuWorld After by Susan EeThe Fiery Heart by Richelle MeadSentinel by Jennifer L. ArmentroutPawn by Aimee Carter
New YA November 2013
37th out of 53 books — 84 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Oct 29, 2013 Giselle rated it it was ok
Shelves: arc, own, paranormal
Oh my word this was weird. Like, disturbingly weird. Talking minister cat/squirrel/dog, deadly fog, walking corpses and all! Fortunately it was the kind of weird that was so weird it was creepy. Unfortunately, the weird turned into the religious which is almost always a complete turn-off for me.

In simple terms, this story is about the end of the world. We don't understand exactly what's going on at first. Everything is kept very cryptic with a constant ominous vibe. Little by little we learn ab
Faye, la Patata

Wow, this book fucked my mind inside and out.

Like post-apocalyptic fiction, I love apocalyptic ones, too. I love reading about the sense of urgency that goes along with it, that kind of emergency where everyone is scrambling and panicking about an event that would end the world as we know it. I've read a few good ones, but more often than not, a lot of them use the same old formula that a new, refreshing voice in these genres is in order. I think I've found that voice in Jason Vanhee. Oh boy, E
Jubilation Lee
I read this book over about three weeks, and I think that was an error on my part, because now that I've reached the end I honest to God have no idea what most of the story was about.

It starts off pretty simply -- Merciful Truth and her brother Gospel Truth have to bury their mother, who has just passed away.

Okay. Got that.

But you add in the strange lack of any other humans, and the deadly mist surrounding the house that tears you limb from limb, and the shape-shifting Minister who spouts relig
Angelina Justice
Feb 27, 2014 Angelina Justice rated it it was ok
Shelves: ya, sci-fi, horror, zombies
This nihilistic approach to a post-apocalyptic world, is definitely horrifying. I suspect it is science fiction in nature, but I wouldn't characterize it as dystopia. It is lacking in the explanatory markers. It has the hopeful rebel, but even she is obliterated.

Perhaps the only thing worse than having one's parent rise as a mindless zombie, is to have them rise as a fragmented version of their previous selves. A version of the mother that is selfish and frightening in pursuit of life that is al
Dec 05, 2013 Brian rated it liked it
Shelves: paper, debut
A bizarre book. Came across it at my local library and picked it up based on the title alone. Every word of this debut is contained within the immediate surroundings of the two main characters, brother and sister Gospel and Merciful Truth. For real. Scuttling around the narrative is a "made thing" called Minister. Again, for real. If there is supposed to be hidden layers of meaning on those names, that are indeed "hidden." A story unfolds involving gluttonous clouds of mist, endless cold and sno ...more
A creepy debut that keeps the surprises coming. Felt like a Southern Gothic dystopian. The two main characters have great, Gothic names: Merciful and Gospel Truth. They grow up with a crazy mother and creature/pet/caretaker called the Minister. A well-told chiller of a story.
I got my hands on an ARC of this, so I guess it's possible there could have been changes made to the final copy.

I really was not sure what to make of this. On the one hand, it moved quickly and was certainly disturbing or scary enough for the age group it's for, I think. On the didn't make a whole lot of sense. There were times I struggled to follow it, so I question how a younger audience might. The main problem I had was that when explanations were given, they just did not make sens
2.5 stars

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Engines of the Broken World is a hard book to review. On one hand, it was undeniably readable; the pages just zipped along and I enjoyed the narrative style. On the other, the story was just... weird and the ending was somewhat unsatisfying, even though I understand why it had to be that way. This will definitely be a decisive book. I think readers will either love it or hate it, no real in between.

This book is even difficult t
Neil McCrea
I've known Jason for 28 or so years. There have been large periods of time with no contact, but 28 years none the less. He has been writing for as long as I've known him, and no doubt a significant amount of time longer as well. When he was 16 he had finished writing a fantasy novel, and as I was a peer with similar literary ambitions he let me read it. I don't remember much of the novel itself, but I do remember being quite jealous that he had a completed, coherent novel under his belt while I ...more
Review written for WASHYARG (Washington Young Adult Review Group).

Teen siblings Merciful and Gospel Truth’s mother has died, and it’s too cold to bury her. The winter is colder than usual, and there isn’t really anyone left in the small rural area where they live to help out. People have been disappearing more and more, and the only people left are the Widow Cally who lives across the field, and Jenny Gone, but she’s too far away to walk to in the frigid weather. There’s also the Minister, of co
Mar 03, 2014 TheSaint rated it it was ok
Shelves: dystopian, ya, horror, suspense
In Mr. Vanhee's version of the world's demise, it ends with both a bang and a whimper.

Merciful and Gospel Truth are quickly becoming the last two people in the world. It is literally closing in on them and slowly killing the last few neighbors they have -- and their mother, who's been none-too-stable in the waning days. Trouble is, she won't stay dead. Neither will the Widow.
When mom and the Widow come together for a final deciding battle for the soul of the world, the children just don't seem
Nov 26, 2015 Emmanuel rated it liked it
3.5 stars.
Umm this book was very bizarre and weird... but I definitely felt the "horror" genre in it. It was eerie and somewhat disturbing. At first I didn't like the fact that religion was deeply embedded in the book, but then I realized that without it, it wouldn't have the same plot or storyline. I could definitely see this as a movie, a really weird one, but a movie nonetheless. The "minister" took a lot to get used to. I didn't particularly like the ending. It didn't really end, although it
Aug 09, 2013 Nathalie rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-work
Feels like the young adult dystopian trend channeled through Samuel Beckett. Claustrophobic and bleak, but surprisingly captivating.
Kitty Jay
Jul 08, 2015 Kitty Jay rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Elaine from library
Jason Vanhee has caught my attention with his first book, Engines of the Broken World. The story revolves around Merciful Truth, a 12-year-old girl who lives in a cabin with her mother, a distant older brother, and a mysterious figure simply called "the Minister" who takes the form of talking animals. When her mother dies during the middle of a snowstorm and the children are forced to put her body under the table instead of burying her, a creepy and fascinating story starts to unfold, with Merci ...more
Tabitha (Pabkins)
I will never be able to hear the lullaby lyrics “hush little baby, don’t say a word…” again without getting chills. Engines of the Broken World was without a doubt nothing I could have possibly expected. I was ensnared from the very first pages with this odd and twisted story of two siblings in an ever shrinking post apocalyptic world.

Merciful Truth and her brother Gospel Truth have recently lost their mother…ok maybe lost is the wrong word – she died. Unfortunately, there is a terrible storm ra
Dec 27, 2013 Amy rated it really liked it

Wickedly haunting from the first breath.

What an ironic place for a beginning… at the end of everything. For Merciful and her brother Gospel, they thought it was just the two of them at end of their own little world, until the dead rose from the basement to tell them otherwise.

In a world that’s growing increasing thin and frail, Merciful and Gospel must find a way to remain. Even if that means embracing the words of the animal-like minister and listening to the dead ramblings of the creature liv
E. Bard
Jan 07, 2014 E. Bard rated it really liked it
A very creepy, unique, and unexpected story about the end of the world. In a way - a very uncomfortable and not literal way mind you - it was weirdly biblical. Not biblical in the sense of being Christian horror fiction - if such a thing exists as a genre - but biblical in the sense that it's the Apocalypse and the end is being heralded by a very creepy Minister. How the Minister appears throughout the story, the way he/it speaks and interacts with Merciful and her brother Gospel, plus the very ...more
Oct 28, 2013 Kimmy rated it really liked it

Source: Received from the publisher via Edelweiss

Goodreads summary:

Merciful Truth and her brother, Gospel, have just pulled their dead mother into the kitchen and stowed her under the table. It was a long illness, and they wanted to bury her—they did—but it’s far too cold outside, and they know they won’t be able to dig into the frozen ground. The Minister who lives with them, who preaches through his animal form, doesn’t make them feel any better about what they’ve done. Me
Book review originally published here:

Engines of the Broken World is definitely chilling. It starts out with Merciful Truth and her brother Gospel, who’ve just stowed their dead mother under the table. It’s not that they don’t love her, it’s simply too cold outside to bury her. They live too far away from civilization to ask anyone about it – there’s only the widow and Jenna living over the hill, and they can’t exactly go out in this cold to ask them eith
Mar 15, 2015 Nora rated it it was amazing
This is the most up-my-alley book I've read in a long time, and I think it may become one of my favorites. Here are a few reasons I liked it so much:

The dialect, whatever it is, gives an intriguing "off" feel from the start

Vanhee captures an absurdity, strangeness, off-ness, sideways-ness, a kind of illogic that nonetheless feels true to the way the world, or at least the mind, or at least my mind, works. He shares that quality with my favorite author, Diana Wynne Jones, though Engines is about
Apr 28, 2016 Aelvana rated it liked it
It was a cold day outside when her mother died. Merciful Truth and her brother, Gospel, have no way to bury her in ground frozen solid and covered with snow besides, so they leave her in the kitchen under the table. But Merciful hears her singing not too long after that, and it's beginning to look as though the dead may not be entirely done with the living. . .

This is an unusual story that starts out with a bit of zombie-horror and then changes and changes again, so by the end it's still not qui
Oct 13, 2015 MLE rated it it was ok
Shelves: yad, arc
Elspeth and I have decided to move our blog, and in honor of my first blog post on our new site I have written a different review for our blog.

I received this book as an ARC through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

When I started this book I was a little thrown off by the writing style. Something about it was a little jarring in the beginning, but once I got a little ways into the book I became more used to it, and saw how the author was using it t
Oct 30, 2013 Tasha rated it really liked it
Shelves: teen
Merciful’s mother has finally died. After years of growing more and more confused and cruel, she died as the weather grew colder and colder. Merciful and her brother Gospel had wanted to bury her properly but the bitter weather had worsened and prevented them from digging a hole. The snow came too, lashing the windows and keeping them from even venturing out to the barn to check on the animals. So they put their mother under the table and went to bed. The Minister, in an animal form, said prayer ...more
Brad Sells
Dec 27, 2013 Brad Sells rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-own
WOAH, YOU GUYS, THIS BOOK. Engines of the Broken World is an eerie, chilling read that will have you looking over your shoulder and keep you up into the late hours of the night. This book messed with my mind - and I loved every second of it.

Let's go ahead and state something: this is not your typical book. Right from the first page, Engines of the Broken World is a creepy, unique novel that begins with something out of the ordinary. In fact, everything about this novel is out of the ordinary. Yo
Feb 11, 2015 Mandy rated it liked it
Merciful and Gospel Truth have a bit of a dilemma. Their mother's corpse lies cold and stiff under the kitchen table, but neither sibling quite dares to attempt to bury her. It's only October, but their village has grown cold and desolate and quiet in that eerie post-apocalyptic way.

Gospel is eager to leave, but Merciful can't imagine calling any other place home. When strange things begin to happen, the two must work together to get to the bottom of a mystery that has its roots in another worl
Sep 12, 2016 Bookworm1858 rated it it was ok
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I'm not entirely sure why I decided to give this a read as I'm normally someone who assiduously avoids horror, being quite the scaredy cat. But I must have seen something intriguing to get it on my review calendar.

The book was very hard to get into and I found the plot a bit difficult to follow. Merciful and her brother Gospel Truth have just seen their mother die. As the world ends, they say goodbye to their two remaining
Nov 17, 2013 Kat rated it really liked it
Merciful Truth has just lost her mother to a awful illness. Its winter, and its the harshest winter Merciful and her brother Gospel have seen. The ground has frozen over, so they decided to put their mother under the kitchen table. They don't really have to much of a choice, and the Minister, who preaches and keeps the siblings company, doesn't try to make them feel any better about it. Merciful tries to ignore her guilt, until she sees her mother rocking back and forth in a rocking chair, singi ...more
Aug 13, 2016 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Merciful's mother has just passed away from an illness that has long been consuming her. This leaves Merciful an orphan and alone in an isolated cabin, until her brother, Gospel, shows up from his treks outside. After attempting to bury their mother fail, they store her under the table in the house. The ground is frozen solid and does not seem to be thawing any time soon. This is the basic beginning of the story. The two children are alone in a cabin that is isolated from a world that do
Sep 12, 2014 J.S. rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction-ya, vine
Ungrateful Children

The winter is getting colder and 12 year-old Merciful Truth's mama just died after a long illness. Her 15 year-old brother, Gospel, says that they can't bury her because the ground is frozen. The minister tells them it's not right to leave the dead unburied and castigates them for being ungrateful children to the mother than birthed them - but he's just a cat. But as the storm worsens and the world outside shrinks they can't possibly go dig a hole, and so they put her under th
Lacey Louwagie
This book has a strange, dreamlike quality that is entirely intentional. After their mother dies, a brother and sister live alone in the wilderness with a strange cat-like creature that spouts out spiritual advice as a reality-obliterating fog encroaches upon them. This is part dystopia, part-post-apocalyptic, part parallel world, part zombie/ghost story, part religious meditation -- and with all these disparate parts, perhaps it's not surprising that the book does none of them particularly well ...more
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Jason Vanhee was born and raised in Seattle, Washington and still calls it home. He writes in several genres and styles, including contemporary fiction, historical fiction, young adult, fantasy and horror. He once drank at every bar in the city of Seattle in a year in order to get out more often. He has worked around the world on Semester at Sea, which still amazes him.
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