Haywired by Alex Keller


Written by Alex Keller

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

Fans of Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engine sequence will love this debut novel, Haywired – a ‘steampunk fairytale’ as described by the publisher. It's packed with murderous inventions, two desperate runaways and one mad dad. Published by a smallish publisher this compelling tale of unearthed family secrets as well as some diabolical plans to turn the world inside out, it’s up to 11 year old Ludwig to rescue the world before any of the ghoulish machines hunt him down. With a plot that’s full of twists and turns on every page, it’s not to be missed.

If you love Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines sequence you should also read Haywired by Alex Keller. Also, click here to read Alex Keller's interview with Philip Reeve in The Solitary Bee.


Haywired by Alex Keller

In the quiet village of Little Wainesford, Ludwig von Guggenstein is about to have his unusual existence turned inside out. When he and his father are blamed for a fatal accident during the harvest, a monstrous family secret is revealed. Soon Ludwig will begin to uncover diabolical plans that span countries and generations while ghoulish machines hunt him down. He must fight for survival, in a world gone haywire.


'Keller has a fantastic writing style which draws you right into the story. The pace is phenomenally fast too and I was never bored. It was exciting and full of suspense - it’s certainly not one of those books where you can guess the ending... Rating: 5/5’ – Mostly Reading YA - A Blog about Young Adult Fiction

'...the characters are varied and interesting and the adventure contains lots of good fun stuff and plenty of peril. The HELOT's are creepy as hell but somehow Jack is even scarier. It's intelligently written, with plenty of wry humour that adds to it's adult readability. HayWired is a fun fantasy adventure full of family secrets, a circus, pirates, steampunk machinery, dark twists and some excellent grimness. I look forward to the next one.' - Un:Bound

'‘The reader is gripped throughout as the crew attempt to escape and save not only their own lives, but those of people across other enchantingly captured lands… intrigue and suspicion pour from the pages thanks to rich characterisation. There is also a dark hopelessness as the story weaves on, a sense of imminent foreboding caused by an all too familiar hand. Even though the subject matter maybe somewhat fantastical, there is a solid reality to this world, a physical quality that makes it unnerving…. I am excited to find out what happens to his characters next, and just what mesmerising spin Alex Keller will take us on in future incarnations.’ - Natalie Crawford, teacher and reviewer for The Solitary Bee

'Haywired is very different to the steampunk books I have read so far. The publishers are calling it a steampunk fairytale, and I cannot come up with a better phrase to describe it, as that is exactly how it reads. The fairytale feel to the story is there from the very first page and at times it is as if the Brothers Grimm were alive and well and writing for a steampunk loving audience. Like many fairytales it is also relatively short, weighing in at a slim 170 pages, but even so it still manages to pack quite a punch. Of course, most adults know that the Grimm fairy tales were exactly that - grim. In their original form they were often full of pretty nasty stuff, involving nasty and bloody endings for characters both good and bad, and they were certainly not the sweet and sanitised stories that we came to supposedly know well thanks to the Disney machine. Haywired is like this as well - the story is deliciously dark in places...' - Book Zone 4 Boys

About the Author

Alex Keller

Alex Keller lives in North London. Haywired, a Steampunk fairytale, was his first novel released in 2010. The sequel Rewired, was released in 2011 and he is currently working on Justice - the second book in the Order of the Furnace series. In his spare time, he occasionally writes for various blog sites including the Solitary Bee and Geek Syndicate.

Q&A with Alex Keller

What inspired you to become an author? I’ve always wanted to be an author. For as long as I remember I’ve read at least a book a week and the idea of writing my own appealing to be a great deal.

Who influences your writing? I’m a huge fan of an author called Terry Pratchett. His books are very clever and very funny, and I would love to be able to write like him.

If you couldn’t be an author, what would you be? I would love to be a rock star (maybe that’s something for the future).

How do you write? I normally spend some time writing notes and making plans in notepads. Once I’m happy with at least a part of the story I start writing the first draft on a computer. Once the first draft is complete I rewrite the story until I am satisfied it works.

Where do your ideas come from? My ideas for the books come from all over the place. I studied Ancient History and Archaeology so some ideas come from there, but there’s no particular place I draw the ideas from. If something interests me or I like something then it’s likely to end up in a story; from musicians to places I’ve visited.

What made you write Order of the Furnace? I’ve been really interested in the Medieval period recently. I love the imagery of castles and knights and grand battles. However, I also like creating fantasy worlds so rather than try to set it in the real world I made a more fantastical one with weird machines in it as well.

Also, I wanted to play around with the idea of what a “boy” and what a “girl” was. In Order of the Furnace, boys and girls are not expected to act differently just because of their gender. It was a lot of fun thinking in that way.

What’s the next book you are writing? I’m doing a sequel to Order of the Furnace and then I’m not sure. I’ve been playing around with some ideas for a book aimed at grown-ups so I may do that.

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Book Info


192 pages
Interest Age: 12-15


Alex Keller
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Author's Website




Publication date

1st September 2010




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