Sharon Gosling brings Rémy Brunel back in The Ruby Airship, sequel to The Diamond Thief. She, J, and her little policeman Thaddeus Rec live together in the Professor’s workshop and though they are safe and sound for the moment, everything changes when the Little Bird’s childhood friend, Yannick, shows up. He’s a clever magician trained in the art of hypnosis who unbeknownst to Rémy, plays on her emotions and steals her away to find Claudette, whom he knows she misses deeply. J gets a note and Thaddeus gets no good-bye, leaving the little policeman to wonder if his love still cares for him.
It’s a good thing J is not only great at giving love advice despite his young age, but is a talented tinker as well. Otherwise the Professor’s left-behind ruby airship in progress would never have gotten completed and Thaddeus would never have the chance to get to Rémy in time to save her from the diabolical Comte’s soldiers. They would never have befriended Dita, a young girl stowaway on the airship, determined to help them out on their journey, even if it requires stitches.
What Rémy doesn’t know is Claudette is hiding a secret identity and that identity is something the Comte cannot wait to reveal to the world so he can use it for his own purposes. All she does know is Claudette hasn’t returned her letters and she must reunite with her to find out why, even if it means running through fire, fighting off metal men, and running away from flowing lava.
Changing identities and a wishy-washy magician make for an action-packed, mysterious, steampunk adventure. Gosling plays on each character’s trust, making the reader question the team of allies. Even though Rémy supposedly left her thieving days behind, when a new set of burglaries occur, Thaddeus can’t help but think either she or Yannick may have something to do with them. And when Rémy escapes by train with Yannick, she accidentally witnesses her friend talking to a strange-looking man, questioning Yannick’s loyalties when he denies it.
These little games of cat and mouse speed the story forward, allowing the reader to plunge face-first into the pages, and not coming up for air until the story is finished. Gosling masterfully intertwines themes of family and trust with the circus life at the core. Rémy’s family lies within the circus life and wherever she goes, if she’s in trouble, they find her. Sometimes, all it takes is a tracking pigeon invented by the Professor. In fact, family is so ingrained in her mind, that despite Yannick’s betrayal, she is still willing to save him from the metal men when they attack.
Yet, once the reader gets to the end, they know the journey’s not over. Rémy figures out who she can trust enough to share a clue box given to her by an old woman who spoke of her brother. But wasn’t she born an only child, or was she? This box is all she has that contains the trail to find her brother, if he indeed does exist.