The story takes place in Istanbul (or Constantinople), Turkey in 1914. World War I has just broken out--except, in this story, the world is a little different from the real world of WWI. This is an "alternate history" story; the Germans and Austrians (called "Clankers") use walking war machines, while the British and their allies (called "Darwinists") use fabricated animals. The two main characters, Prince Alek of Austria and Dylan Sharp (who's really Deryn--I'll get to that in a minute) have flown to Istanbul. Prince Alek is a prisoner of the British. Dylan is with Dr. Barlow, the granddaughter of Charles Darwin, who is on a mission to deliver a secret cargo to the Sultan. Things do not go as planned, however. The mission fails spectacularly, Prince Alek escapes, hides in Istanbul and joins a revolutionary movement to overthrow the Sultan. In the meantime, Dylan performs acts of heroism, gets sent on an underwater mission and discovers a deadly Clanker weapon. And speaking of secrets, important people start to discover Dylan's secret--which is that Dylan is really Deryn, a girl who disguised herself as a boy to join the Royal Air Service!
If you liked all the adventure, excitement, humor of Leviathan, then get ready, because this book has all that plus some!! You've got Clanker machines attacked on the streets of Istanbul, strange Darwinist animals, daring nighttime escapes and an unbelievable battle at the end. And the illustrations!!! In most books, the pictures are just--well, they're just sort of there and don't really add anything. In Behemoth, the illustrations really take you into the story and bring everything vividly to life. I enjoyed this one and I'm sure you will, too. I can't wait until next year when Goliath, the third book, comes out!!
PS--if you want to see my review of Leviathan from the Boys Read blog, click here. If you haven't read it already, you could go right to Behemoth, but I'd advise you to read Leviathan first so you get a better sense of what's going on.