Great story from the Vicotian like era, mixed with Fantasy.
Matt is a young airman serving on a huge flying luxury airship that is part dirigible, part passenger cruise ship. It uses a gas lighter then helium and Hydragen to keep it up in the air. Matt is a cabin boy working his way up. He has dreams of owning his own ship someday and being captian. For now he would like to be promoted to the sailmakers department, that was where his father served his whole life. Matt only feels comfortable in the air. He was actually born while his parents were flying from the old country to the new.
While on the ship he spots a drifting balloonist. When they catch up to it they discover a man that is just about to die. He mumbles about something that he saw.
Later, the balloonists grandaughter sails to find what her grandfather was talking about. Matt and Kate start their own adventure as they meet pirates, crash, get attacked by a strange flying creature and start to fall in love.
I love the way Kenneth Oppel can take a fantasy world but give it so much detail that you really believe it is real and then he fits all the pieces together it just feels like history. The Cloud Cats are described like it was a real scientific discovery. The imagination and adventure is quite gripping. I didn't even stop a minute before I picked up the second book and started reading!