This YA sequel pits time-hopping tweens against gangsters and pirates in search of an ancient relic.
The Mellor siblings—Becky, 13, and her brother, Joe, 12—are once again leaving Manchester, England, for a vacation at Bowen Hall. They await Uncle Percy Halifax, who drives a 1963 Volkswagen Camper. He’s late, however, which wouldn’t be odd if not for the fact that Percy uses the van to travel in time. Once he materializes—stranded in a tree—the inventor activates the Memoraser on the siblings’ mother to keep her from knowing time travel is possible. Later at Bowen Hall, Becky and Joe revisit friends plucked from various historical eras, like medieval hero William Shakelock and Gump, the baby Triceratops. The Traveling Times paper also reminds Becky that her father, John, remains lost in some era and the Global Institute for Time Travel searches desperately for him. Suddenly, a motorcyclist crashes the hall’s placidity. Time-traveler Bruce Westbrook has arrived to warn that he’s seen the murderous Otto Kruger back in the 18th-century Caribbean. Worse, Westbrook presents a pair of gold coins that “radiate evil” and a story about zombie sharks. With the battle for the legendary Golden Fleece behind them, the heroes must now track down and protect Pandora’s Box. In this endearingly madcap installment, Ashmore (The Time Hunters, 2012, etc.) marries a love of history with plenty of intellect and action. The lore surrounding Blackbeard the pirate features heavily, and readers learn that he was supposedly “killed by Lieutenant Robert Maynard of the Royal Navy in the winter of 1718.” Ashmore’s prose is informative for YA audiences and incisive enough to ensnare older readers. In Al Capone’s Chicago, the glittering chandeliers of the Palmer House Hotel “shed a warm flush over...stylishly dressed people talking very loudly, as if mere volume alone would secure their standing in the cream of Chicago society.” Further surprises await, like the scalpel-wielding George Chapman and the notion that “God created five relics,” the hunt for which may lead to John Mellor.
A sharp, swashbuckling series entry that promises bolder—and darker—times ahead.