The dirt and din of an expanding industrial town in re-imagined nineteenth-century south Wales provide the dramatic setting of the first Welsh steampunk novel. After murdering her abusive father in the gripping opening scene, young Sara Matthews escapes, joining the exodus from the poverty-stricken country to reinvent herself in the town. Here she begins to find independence as a pioneering woman journalist and comes face-to-face with the harsh realities of life in the town, from the misery and dangers of working-class life to the corruption that lies beneath the respectable, pious veneer of the rich industrialists. Like the poisonous air, the lust for power and money filters down to taint even the seemingly principled professional classes and soon Sara herself is drawn into the town’s dark underworld, turning detective to discover the secret of the mysterious lost street children.
From this compelling narrative emerge a host of themes of contemporary resonance, from sectarian conflict and environmental pollution to inequalities and the role and responsibility of the media. Drawing playfully on the tropes of the Victorian novel, even down to the dramatic ending, and with a pitch-perfect ear for dialogue, Ifan Morgan Jones effortlessly creates an unforgettable fictional but all too recognisable world.
'Ar wahan i’r mwynhad pur o ddarllen nofel swmpus mewn Cymraeg cyhyrog, fe ddysgais gymaint am y cyfnod... Mae gen i barch mawr at [yr awdur], a dwi wedi gwirioni ar ei gampwaith diweddaraf, fy mlas cyntaf o ‘agerstalwm’'
Angharad Tomos, Yr Herald
'Mae’n ddifyr tu hwnt, yn gyffrous... bobl bach mae hi’n carlamu ymlaen'
Ion Thomas, BBC Radio Cymru