Wildspark by Vashti Hardy
Mum always said he had a smile and a twinkle in his big browns that could light up the darkest room, but Prue couldn’t help but see the shadow of sadness in the edges that haven’t left this past year.Sentence from page 11
Loss, Reanimation, Guilds
Vashti Hardy is known for her Steam-punkish alternate reality STEM fuelled writing that juxtaposes exciting Middle Grade adventure with the exploration of deep concepts ranging with Brightstorm and its sequel DarkWhispers looking at ideas of corruption, Colonisation and Empire, and WildSpark is completely in the same wheelhouse, but looks at the ethics of reanimation, robotics and servitude.
Wildspark explores the concept of Deus Ex Machina by the idea of the mystical meets engineering sparking the spirits of deceased people into animal robots- BUT wiping their memories. These mechanimals serve as a sort of underclass in the society ranging from pets to storekeepers, servants or security whilst a few act as companions and even, as we discover aspire to work within the Guild itself. When coupled with the fact that some ‘First lifers’ do not wish the reanimated to have equal rights we see an interesting metaphor for Civil Rights and Servitude and indeed the ethics of choice as the spirits have no say whether they are tethered or not, and without their memories cannot truly consent.
But it also explores grief, as our protagonist Prudence grieves deeply for her talented brother, and so desperately wishes to find his spirit to bring home she assumes his identity to attend the apprentice scheme at the Guild. Her grief acts as a counterpoint to her self doubt as she believes she is out of her depth compared to her brother’s talents.
However, I love this the most for its Zootropolis meets Frankenstein vibe and the mystery that unfolds as something is desperately wrong at the Guild, but will they discover the truth in time?
Check out my review for more.
Have you read this book or do you think you will give it a go?