Laing (Look Ahead, Look Back, 2012, etc.) continues the adventures of three time-traveling children in this second installment of the Snipesville Chronicles.
Having returned unscathed from WWII–era England, siblings Hannah and Alex and their friend Brandon find themselves accidentally headed back in time again, this time to the 1850s Industrial Revolution in Great Britain and the U.S. As in the previous novel, the three children get separated, though they end up working their ways back to one another over the course of the adventure. Alex in particular, who is alone in the antebellum American South, has difficulty coping with moral quandaries of the time. Also like the first book, the children must solve a mystery with implications for the present, and they once again receive help from quirky Dr. Harrower, who pops up throughout the story to help them and offer clues. There are just enough allusions to the first book to explain the children’s predicament, but the sequel isn’t quite as engaging as the first one, as the mystery here is harder to figure out and the stakes, difficult to discern. Furthermore, the professor remains a bit undeveloped: she’s supposed to be the kids’ (and, therefore, the readers’) guide to the magic found in the story, but she mostly seems befuddled, without a good sense of why she and the kids keep bouncing around through time. Yet Laing’s combination of historical detail and sheer sense of fun carry through and help make the story an enjoyable read. She brings her setting vividly to life and clearly conveys the specific pitfalls of the time period. However, as in the first book, some of the dialogue remains a little trite, especially from Hannah, an irritated teenager who spouts too many lines like “Whatever, TMI.” Laing still manages to bring a welcome breath of fresh air to the time-traveling adventure, and she thankfully leaves the door open for more books to continue the story.
A mostly engaging, enjoyable sequel.