Jo Walton’s Ha’Penny is the sequel to her WW2 alternate history English countryside murder mystery, Farthing . I didn’t say a lot about that book in my booklog entry for it, because it’s the sort of book whose impact can be dulled even by knowing the general shape and tenor of the story, where even talking about what genre it’s in can tell you more than you should really know.

(And man, talking in circumlocution is difficult. Just go read it and make life easier for me already. I miss my proper nouns.)

Anyway, Ha’Penny. In a lot of ways, it really is Farthing II: The Revenge; it’s a very direct sequel (happening nearly immediately afterward), it features some characters from the first book and some other characters who are reminiscent of the characters in the first book, and it has similar concerns and themes. But it is ultimately a different book entirely. The genre is alternate history crossed with intrigue thriller, rather than the alternate history crossed with countryside murder mystery of the first novel; the new characters are, despite superficial similarities, different from those of the first; and the shape and feel of the story is very middle-bookish. Farthing felt like a stand-alone novel, but this one feels incomplete without both that first book and the upcoming third.

Ultimately, “middle book of a great trilogy” is an accurate (if optimistically forward-looking) description of this book. If you’ve read and liked Farthing, I can’t imagine a reason not to read this; if you haven’t, you should.


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