Review: Engines of the Broken World by Jason Vanhee

November 12, 2013 3.5 stars, Book Review 17 ★★★½

Engines of the Broken World

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. Merciful calms her guilty feelings but only until, from the other room, she hears a voice she thought she’d never hear again. It’s her mother’s voice, and it’s singing a lullaby. . . .

Engines of the Broken World is a chilling young adult novel from Jason Vanhee.

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 raging and they can’t very well bury her. So they put her the only thing place they can think of at the time, under the kitchen table. To their credit it is the coldest room in the house and they plan to bury her after the storm passes. The two young teens have been somewhat looked after their whole life by this entity called The Minister. He, it, whatever you want to think of it as, is essentially the religious guidance for people in the future. Think of a real preacher aka minister but much more of a nag and know it all.

Here I have to interject that I’m sure you’ve noticed that the names of the characters have a very religious overtone as well. Normally, I completely shy away from any book that deals with religion or that seems to have a strong theme of religion. This is because quite frankly, I hate it when my reading material feels preachy. And that is just what The Minister is – he’s a preachy thing that’s meant to keep the siblings on the straight and narrow, doing what is right and proper in life. When things started going that way I really thought I wasn’t going to enjoy Engines of the Broken World but I was surprised, even with the religious overtone it DIDN’T feel like a religious book. More like that was just the coating in which it was delivered. I could definitely see a reader feeling that it was religious and not enjoying it. So that would be a big aspect the reader would want to consider if picking Engines of the Broken World up. I guess the farther I got into it the more it didn’t feel to me like religion was the point of it, you catch my drift? But this would be purely up to the interpretation of individual readers. To me it felt similar to reading that story THE LOTTERY, where people do strange things in the name of a religion. Except here the teens didn’t do anything strange because of religion…strange things just kept happening and it turns out those things were related to something religious? It was so eery and unsettling that I just couldn’t help enjoying the whole experience. Because I do so love things that set me on edge.

Though less than 300 pages it took me longer to read because much of my reading time is in the evenings and I simply had to stop a few times at night because I was that creeped out. Looking back after finishing I think perhaps I was over reacting or being a bit silly but at the time, there was no denying the eebie jeebies I was getting. From the sound of nails scraping down the outside of a door…and the haunting words of a lullaby sung in the voice of their dead mother…I just had to take a breaks until the daylight hours.

I won’t go into any of that which happened over the course of the book, because if I did I think it would ruin the reading experience. The description tells you just enough to lure you in – and the rest?…well it’s a suspensefull, chilling, almost waking nightmare. Readers that love young adult fiction of the creepy kind will definitely find Engines of the Broken World to their liking.

Engines of the Broken World

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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17 Responses to “Review: Engines of the Broken World by Jason Vanhee”

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Yeah I hear you – I think a lot of it depends on whether you can or want to read something that has a strong religious overtone to it. I don’t like religion in my fiction but in this case I was able to look past that.

  1. Nathan (@ReviewBarn)

    I can’t really remember the last time a book gave me chills at night. Why didn’t you find this one for us before Halloween?

    Love the name Merciful Truth. Recently an author on twitter shared a list of actual puritan names, Merciful Truth is tame compared to some of them. Hope you don’t mind a link, I think it is fun.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_vault/2013/09/13/puritan_names_lists_of_bizarre_religious_nomenclature_used_by_puritans.html
    Nathan (@ReviewBarn) recently posted…Five Fantasy Tropes I Still DigMy Profile

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Because it didn’t get released until a few days ago!

      Personally I am NOT into books that have a religious theme at all. I picked this one up not realizing it would be religious. The names Merciful and Gospel and Minster should have clued me in right? Even though it did have a strong religious theme I’m glad I read it because it was super creepy and I like that sort of thing from time to time.

      Cool link I’ll check it out.

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I guess it really depends on how you look at it. The Minister is there to preach to the kids and people. It did feel like a religious / preachy book – but the creep and weirdness factor overruled things for me because it didn’t start getting preachy until a ways into the book so by then I was hooked in and really enjoying it. Thus I was able to have myself look past it. However, that is not usually the norm for me. I almost always can’t stand books with highly religious overtones. I don’t know that this one would be for you because of the strong religious theme.

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Oh yeah – creepyyyyy. There is of course that religious factor in the book though that quite a number of readers are having issue with. So keep that in mind if you decide to pick it up.

  2. Silvia

    This sounds really interesting but if it gave you chills, it would probably scare me to death! I’m such a wuss when it comes to creepy.

  3. Jaime Lester

    Just reading your review gave me the creeps, so I am all in with this one. The religious theme doesn’t bother me, so I think that I would like this one. Even though I am a chicken and will have to sleep with the light on, I love creepy. I am weird, big time.

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I really wasn’t joking when I saw a few times I had to stop reading at night because I was so creeped out. For some reason I can read zombies at night but this…I don’t know what it was about it. You’ll see tho!

      So have you read Cinder yet?

      • Jaime Lester

        I haven’t read it yet. I have been so busy I have barely been able to read anything. BUT I have been reading Steelheart FINALLY, and I love it!