Storm Glass by Jeff Wheeler:
From the Amazon page:
Theirs is a world of opposites. The privileged live in sky manors held aloft by a secretive magic known only as the Mysteries. Below, the earthbound poor are forced into factory work to maintain the engine of commerce. Only the wealthy can afford to learn the Mysteries, and they use their knowledge to further lock their hold on society.
Cettie Pratt is a waif doomed to the world below, until an admiral attempts to adopt her. But in her new home in the clouds, not everyone treats her as one of the family.
Sera Fitzempress is a princess born into power. She yearns to meet the orphan girl she has heard so much about, but her father deems the girl unworthy of his daughter’s curiosity.
Neither girl feels that she belongs. Each seeks to break free of imposed rules. Now, as Cettie dreams of living above and as Sera is drawn to the world below, they will follow the paths of their own choosing.
But both girls will be needed for the coming storm that threatens to overturn both their worlds.
I only just finished reading this book. I didn’t know what to expect. I have all these free books and while the title sounded intriguing I hadn’t read much about it and since it was a while since I downloaded it, I couldn’t remember anything. It turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Freebies are always of varying quality. So many DNF:s, but also a few that are really great. The test of this is whether I would want to buy the book and in this case, I definitely would and continue to buy books in the series, as long as they are as good as this one.
You get to know Cettie very well, and Sera quite well. Also the (former) admiral is someone you get to know well. The others, not so much. Some of them are still quite likable. There are also scary ghosts that you don’t really learn much about. They’re probably ordinary spirits of the dead, but not quite. More like monsters that want to suck your body heat from you. All in all, though, this book wasn’t too terrifying. I would probably have been able to read it at the age of ten and up.
I love the world building. The sky manors are fascinating and they’re not just opulent mansions, but have their own set of rules that Cettie gradually gets to know. I’ll try to keep this spoiler free, so I’m not going to mention one of the coolest aspects of those manor houses but I really loved it.
Poor people participate in lotteries to be allowed to work as servants up in the sky and onyl a few are chosen. The rich use the slums to ’disappear’ undesirables. People can vanish without a trace and children usually don’t live to grow up. People can also ’deed’ away their children for a certain number of years into various positions, some quite prestigious, others backbreaking dull work. Some for so long they’re expected to die in servitude. It’s a sad, dark world inspired by Charles Dickens’ work.
Oh, and the book is well written and fascinating so I can really recommend it to anyone who likes this type of fantasy story.