When 11-year-old Jim Morgan’s father is killed, he’s determined to find out why and ends up on the run in 19th-century London in Raney’s debut historical adventure novel.
Jim’s mother died when he was an infant, and his father was away at sea for much of his childhood. Jim’s aunt, who raised him, let him run amok, and he spent his days terrorizing the servants and paying little attention to his studies. His life changes the day his father comes home; by nightfall, his father is murdered, and Jim finds himself on the run from the killers. The youth ends up in the London underworld, where it’s tough to be an 11-year-old kid—let alone one with no money, no connections and a price on his head. With no one to help him, he presses on and tries to figure out how to open a box his father left him. Over the course of the novel, which also includes magic, pirates and pickpockets, Jim matures from a spoiled, friendless rich kid to a young man with friends who can count on him. The novel features strong secondary characters, including a small gang of children who adopt Jim and teach him the ways of the underworld. It also has many tense moments, as well as a strong sense of fun. Raney sets this book up to be the first of a series, and while this initial story wraps up satisfactorily, many readers will be eager to spend more time in the world Raney has created.
A rip-roaring good tale for children of all ages.