The first volume in a YA series featuring siblings who help their time-traveling uncle locate ancient artifacts.
Thirteen-year-old Becky Mellor is spending the summer with her younger brother, Joe, and their reclusive inventor uncle, Percy Halifax. From their home in Manchester, England, the siblings head for Bowen Hall and what will probably be a dull vacation. Upon meeting Percy, however, the siblings find him charmingly eccentric; his Jacobean mansion comes with rare miniature horses and a brilliant archer named Will, who lives in a treehouse. Then, one night, Joe drags Becky out of bed to witness Percy catering to a sick saber-toothed tiger. This leads to the revelation that it’s possible to travel backward in time, which the Global Institute for Time Travel regularly does. After a jaunt to the Pleistocene epoch (in a 1963 Volkswagen camper van), Percy and the kids return to find Bowen Hall ransacked by the murderous Otto Kruger, who may well be hunting for the legendary Golden Fleece. In Percy’s possession are the mysterious Theseus Disc and a note from deceased friend and fellow time traveler Bernard Preston. Following these leads, the heroic trio ventures to the island of Crete in the year 1634 B.C.—but are they prepared to face the myths handed down by history? Author Ashmore kicks off his series with a sustained burst of narrative ingenuity and wit. His characters are wonderful company, especially Becky, an endearing smart aleck who calls Percy’s housekeeper, Maria, a “human skittle.” The clever rules of Ashmore’s world will also hook readers; the Omega Effect, for example, governs certain events that time travelers can’t alter. Then there’s the problem of Otto Kruger, a Nazi who’s somehow gone forward in time. When danger threatens, Ashmore channels Dr. Who through madcap Percy: “Guns are for amateurs.” Best of all, the audience is treated to moments that are beautiful (Becky crying at the sight of woolly mammoths) and transcendent: “No matter when or where you are, the sea remains the same—wonderful, elegant, dangerous and vast.” From every angle, it’s an excellent work.
This series couldn’t ask for a more vibrant opening chapter.