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(Steeplejack #1)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  948 ratings  ·  223 reviews
Seventeen-year-old Anglet Sutonga makes a living repairing the chimneys, towers, and spires of Bar-Selehm. Dramatically different communities live and work alongside one another. The white Feldish command the nation’s higher echelons of society; the native Mahweni are divided between city life and the savannah. And then there’s Ang, part of the Lani community who immigrate ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published June 14th 2016 by Tor Teen
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Average rating 3.82  · 
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Emily May
May 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 2016, young-adult
"What are we going to do?" she asked, very slightly breathless.
"We're going to solve a murder," I said.

How funny it is that I was just complaining a couple days ago that authors never do anything different with the fantasy genre and then this little gem comes along. And gets wild, creative and very different.

The cover had me thinking this was probably steampunk, or some sci-fi subgenre at least, but Steeplejack is actually a complex, thoughtful fantasy, exploring racial politics in a postcol
Mogsy (MMOGC)
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

A.J. Hartley sure knows how to open a book with style. A public national and historical treasure of Bar-Selehm called the Beacon is stolen, and our protagonist, seventeen-year-old Anglet Sutonga, finds one of her fellow steeplejacks murdered hours before she finds herself becoming the guardian of her sister’s newborn infant—all in the same night.

Ang knows she’s in way over her head. And to make matters worse, she soon lose
Jun 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Anglet is a third daughter from a family of the Lani people, poor immigrants who live in shanties at the edge of the industrial city of Bar-Selehm. A third daughter to the Lani is a curse, but Ang spends her life defying that label. She's a seventeen-year old steeplejack, older than they usually get, and a woman besides. When the boy who was supposed to be her new apprentice is found dead, she can't help but feel responsible because the boy has literally no-one else that cares about what happene ...more
Jul 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
This was a slow-starter for me, but once it got moving, it was wonderful. Set in a lightly fictionalised 19th-century/early 20th century South Africa, it features a wonderful heroine, and an engaging mystery.
Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller
[Dual Review - Both 4/5 stars]

Steeplejack and Firebrand [click here for a US & Canada GIVEAWAY of both titles] were two of the most unique books I’ve ever read – the type of stories that continue to resonate long after you finish them!

The books were successful on several accounts. The “whodunit” detective mystery was engaging, made all the more compelling by Anglet’s (the main character) personal stake in solving the crime. Her involvement felt more organic than not, and the passages dedicated t
Apr 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2017
Read April 2017

Last week I was feeling pretty burned out by the YA the storylines were getting so stale and predictable, but then I read Steeplejack and some of my faith in the YA genre has been restored. Here is a YA novel I would be proud to say I read. The young female protagonist is a strong character in her own right. She makes mistakes, but does not lean on her male cohort, in fact this book has a astonishing lack of leading males. There are male characters but they tend to be secondary ch
Jun 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a pleasant surprise; I started it on impulse and it was nothing like any expectations that I may have had.

Ang is a steeplejack, she works for a shady gang repairing steeples, cleaning chimneys and other, more illegal, activities. Ang is unusual in that not only is she a girl but she's older than most of her 'colleagues', so far surviving the daily danger of working at such heights. The job is dangerous but as Ang says climbing up an extra fifty feet becomes irrelevant after a certain h
4.5 out of 5

I have a friend who works for Tor / Forge Books, and she'd mentioned this book last year after it had sold to the publisher. As soon as she said "South African inspired steampunk YA," I was on board. Now, after reading STEEPLEJACK, my first thought is this: Why isn't this book getting more attention?!?! Because it deserves it!

- THE WORLD-BUILDING. The city of Bar-Selehm and its surrounding rural areas are indeed inspired by South Africa, with a steampunk flavor to the cit
Jul 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
“It really was that simple. You figured out what you needed to do to stay alive, and you did it.”

3 1/2 stars. This was a slow moving, well written mystery with a freaking fantastic protagonist. The fantasy world was richly developed, filled with "steeplejacks" or rooftop climbers who repaired chimneys and spires, different races of people, and a clever, intricate mystery.

Anglet is our awesome main character who is the best steeplejack in Bar-Selehm. The story opens with Ang going to meet her
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Before it showed up on my doorstep, Steeplejack was only mildly on my radar. I’d featured it in Cover Snark, and I thought the cover was gorgeous, but, other than that, I’d not given it much thought. Thankfully, Steeplejack did appear, because I would have taken a long time to get around to reading it otherwise, and it’s such an adventure.

One thing I’ve bemoaned, even with the advent of more and more diverse books in recent years is that diverse genre fiction still lags behind. Steeplejack has a
*Source* Publisher
*Genre* Young Adult, Steampunk, Fantasy
*Rating* 4.0


Steeplejack is the first installment in new to me author A.J. Hartley's Alternative Detective trilogy. 17-year old Anglet "Ang" Sutonga lives in a place called Bar-Selehm. One could say that the setting of the story is an alternative version of South Africa, especially with the most diverse cast that I can truly remember reading about. Ang is one of only a few individuals, and the only female, who works the high place
Kara Babcock
Oh my god give me more of these books right damn now.

I don’t normally do this, but can we just stop for a moment and look at this utterly gorgeous cover by Mike Heath? I was going to read Steeplejack from the description alone, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t the cover that caught my eye while I was browsing the New Books shelf. Everything about this cover is amazing. The entire shot is from an off-kilter perspective, neither horizontal nor vertical, forcing us to look at everything from a
Sara (A Gingerly Review)
Yet another book that started off rather strong and tried to do too much. Lost momentum after 40%, and then felt it would cover big topics in a page or two. Sigh. Full review coming soon.

I started this book not knowing what I might possibly find between the pages. I did not know what to expect but I can tell you that I was completely underwhelmed. This book did not really do anything for me except make me frustrated.

This is the story of Anglet, a steeplejack in a very rough neighborhood in Lani
Jane Stewart
I was not captivated or eager to keep reading, but it kept my interest.

I enjoyed reading about Ang a 17-year-old female who was an expert climber and strong. She climbed brick buildings using finger holes and toe holes. She climbed inside chimneys pushing with her feet and back. She traveled a lot over rooftops. She lived with a gang of youths who worked for a bad-guy. It was set in a fictional world with horse drawn carriages and guns. A rich guy hired Ang to investigate a robbery and murder of
Dec 31, 2015 added it
Shelves: publicist-books
I found a new heroine for us to love!!! Ang is fierce, determined, loyal, curious, smart, and stubborn. This is great historical fantasy. The setting is an alternate South Africa, fraught with racial and political tensions, with an amazing diverse cast, and really rich characters. And an awesome mystery!!! Good mysteries are hard to find, at least for me, but this delivered in so many ways. In a way, it reminded me of The Alienist, because the mystery is so entrenched in people's lives and this ...more
Perhaps the most original book I've read all summer. Do you like steampunk? Do you like originality? Then read this. This book is badass, super feminist (surprising for a book written by a dude) and just plain awesome. The setting is magnificent - it's like a Alt-Steampunk version of late 19th Century Colonial Sub-Saharan Africa (the mixture of the English/Dutch/Indian/African-inspired cultures is fantastic). Bottom line: this book awesome. I need more. I see it's the first of a series, meaning ...more
Sep 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow, so good! Action packed with startlingly poignant imagery snuck in when you least expect it. A kick butt heroine with brown skin from a historically disadvantaged population and a setting clearly reminiscent of South Africa with just a bit of fantastical combines with wonderful secondary characters and hard choices. I'm ecstatic that this book now exists and can't wait for the sequel. ...more
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
Some really really great things, and then some things that were... less so.

Roger Whitson
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
WARNING: This review contains mild spoilers. Also, full disclosure, Diana Pho graciously provided me with an advanced copy of the book.

The most compelling moments in A.J. Hartley’s steampunk novel Steeplejack occur when Anglet Sutonga recalls the deaths of people lost in the city’s forgotten corners. Characters are murdered with great frequency in the novel — their bodies stashed inside buildings targeted for demolition, suffocated inside labrynthine chimney stacks, or ripped to shreds by yellow
As a librarian, there is nothing I love more than a great library moment in a book, especially if the librarian might be the cause for some of that moment. Enter librarian, Miss Fischer. Although most readers probably don’t remember her less than 2-page role, I found it hilarious and worthy even to start this review off with. Main protagonist, Anglet, is in need of the public library to help solve her murder mystery, most importantly she would love to check-out the public land records. Librarian ...more
Jessica Strider
Sep 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, ya, steampunk
Pros: brilliant world-building, fascinating protagonist, complex mystery


Anglet Sutonga is a steeplejack. When she was younger she cleaned chimneys. At 17 she’s too big for that, so now she works the factory stacks. After a series of events, including the theft of a city landmark, she’s hired to investigate a series of crimes that the police are ignoring. Meanwhile race relations in the city of Bar-Selehm are breaking down between the white upper class, the black Mahweni (those assimilated
Jul 30, 2016 rated it liked it
While I enjoyed this for the most part, I had a couple of problems with it.

1) the political situation was never really explained. It basically sounded like none of the different races liked each other. There was one race that was always blamed but I found it odd that there was no character of that race in the story. As a result, the conflict felt forced and unnatural.

2) characters appeared and disappeared. One moment, a character would be there helping Ang, and then that character would not be
Sep 30, 2017 rated it liked it
I did enjoy this story and the mystery, but I kept thinking it felt like a wannabe Six of Crows without the charisma. ...more
Jul 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very plot driven with a mystery base exterior.
A fine main lead character with a heart. The romance is very, very, limited. But, that was a good thing.
Apr 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
A.J. Hartley's new novel Steeplejack seems at first to be an issue book about race relations touting itself as a mystery. Within the first five chapters, the protagonist -- a Lani steeplejack named Anglet Sutonga -- faces misogyny, assault, racial stereotyping, poverty, and more from police, her community, her boss, and even her own family.

I almost put the book down.

It wasn't that these issues were difficult to read about or that the book portrayed them unrealistically; it was the fact that in s
Dec 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
I have to give major kudos to this book for the creativity. It's rich, full of steampunk elements and takes place on the African continent. The narrator adds to the atmosphere with the cadence of her voice, and I just loved Steeplejack on audio partly because of her!

The investigation itself is not the strongest part of the plot, and I wasn't convinced by Ang's mostly intuitive jumps to conclusions/ I don't think she made for a good detective, and she certainly shouldn't have been offered the jo
May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Wow I am quite impressed with Steeplejack! It wasn't at all what I was expecting and I really enjoyed the overall plot!

This story at it's core is very political and racial which surprised me. I wasn't expecting that at all and at times it felt a little forced honestly. I think the author was a little heavy handed with all the "white" and "black" descriptions. I would have still gotten the message if he had left those out. I get why it was all important, but it was a bit much and took away from t
Sarah Sanborn
Jan 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's refreshing to read something different. This is not your typical YA fantasy/detective story. It is set in the city of Bar-Selhem, a city with an Industrial Revolution feel to it. Now that's nothing new, but the wonderful thing is it's set on an African like continent, full of elephants, hippos, hyenas, and jackals. There are three main peoples in the city, the rich, white, Feldish; the native Mahweni who have either assimilated into the city or live as unassimilated tribes on the savannah; ...more
STEEPLEJACK, the first book in a new young adult series by A.J. Hartley, is, in the simplest terms, a fantasy novel. Although fantasy is the genre it has been wedged into, I will tell you now that it is much bigger than that. STEEPLEJACK is a fantastic detective-noir story set in a steampunk South Africa. It has all the trappings of a great detective story, including a main character with only good intentions and a bad reputation, a dead innocent in the opening, a wide-spread web of conspiracy, ...more
Anglet is a steeplejack, a person who climbs on buildings for a variety of work related reasons (chimney work, retrieval, the building of things, etc.). One day, at the end of a shift, she discovers a dead body on the ground. As being a steeplejack is quite dangerous, she isn't completely alarmed at first, until she realizes that the person did not die of natural causes - he had been stabbed in the back. After that, she takes it upon herself to solve the murder mystery as well as a few other mys ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Series name correction 2 12 Mar 01, 2018 02:35PM  
Fantasy Buddy Reads: SteepleJack [Nov 17, 2017] 48 29 Nov 25, 2017 06:55AM  
Ideas for Book Club books 2 5 Jan 10, 2017 02:27PM  

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