Review: Updraft by Fran Wilde

I’m finally catching up with this inventive YA fantasy with some excellent monsters and aerobatic twists.

The City is a series of organic towers that slowly grow from a base hidden below the clouds. Humanity live a precarious existence within these bone-like, governed by strict traditions enforced by the singers of the central Spire. While some towers are joined by bridges, the chief mode of travel is via artificial wings, which people use to fly with – making use of the winds currents between towers.

The chief threat to the people of the city is near-invisible floating monsters. These ravenous creatures can besiege a tower, pulling out humans with their tentacles.

The setting is highly inventive and establishes several layers of mystery – in particular, the actual nature of the City, which appears to be some kind of single living entity. The story itself is more conventional – a young woman future expectations are derailed when she inadvertently displays special powers. Her rebelliousness and talents take her deeper into the mysteries of her world as she passes through a series of initiations.

I enjoyed the story but I didn’t really warm to any of the characters. I think this partly due to a lot of events and background demanding attention made it harder for individual characters to show greater depth.

Updraft works as a standalone novel if you don’t mind the deeper mysteries going unsolved, but it had a sequel last year (Cloudbound) and a third book (Horizon) is out later in 2017.


[Oh, links to Amazon are now doing an embedded thing. This is a more literal cover (and a nice one) but I prefer the other cover]





  1. JJ

    Did you find it bizarre that the way the main character’s irresponsible actions resulted in huge damage, for the rest of their lives, to the living conditions of her mother and her friend and his mother, and that this was utterly glossed over with an “oh, that’s too bad” and then completely forgotten?

    This pretty much ruined the book for me, it was such a tacit endorsement that the main character’s behavior was just fine — when in fact she was incredibly selfish and utterly oblivious to the harm she’d caused other people, and she never did gain any self-awareness of this.


    • camestrosfelapton

      Yes – I mean, self-centred protagonists in YA makes sense given they are often either teens or teen-stand ins being teenagerish but I agree. She didn’t seem to really learn from this or become more likeable.