It’s a trilogy, set in Canada, somewhere in the early 1900s. Some of the history has been tweaked and fictionalized–airships abound, as do unnatural creatures. That being said, in each of these books, Oppel manages not to do what you think he’ll do.
These are stories that set the table quickly, serve up a few different dishes, and then pass the plates around so that you get a little bite of everything, enough to make you want all of it.
They are written very smoothly, they read very easily, and the characters just pop to life on the page. Each of them has a clear and unique motivation, and these motivations clash and drive everyone in adventurous–yet believable–directions.
You’re not just reading airship fantasy. You’re reading a fine tale of young love, rampant imagination, swashbuckling villains, impossible creatures, and fascinating science, all put together in a way that makes it seem so normal and real.
Frankly, I don’t know why they aren’t more popular.
And I recommend the audiobooks of each, because they are narrated by a full cast that adds to the immersive quality of the storytelling.
One final bit of praise: while this is definitely a trilogy, each book is remarkably self-contained. No cliffhangers, no “tune in next week!!”, none of that. Each volume is thorough and satisfying. I think I should like to read them again.