A lighthearted foray into a world of mystery, riddles, and sorcery in London’s underbelly.
Jack Buckles is a tracker by birth—the result of a forbidden “confluence of tracker bloodlines.” His ability to “spark,” or send visions to his brain by touching objects, helped him stop the villainous Clockmaker nearly a year ago in series opener The Lost Property Office (2016). Lately, Jack’s unusually keen senses have been failing him, but he soon finds he has far bigger problems to solve. He is framed for the disappearance of the crown jewels and is forced to team up with his disgruntled friend, the irrepressible clerk Gwen, to discover the secrets of the cursed rubies and to clear his name. The duo stays steps ahead of the Ministry of Secrets, dodging dragons and maneuvering skiffs through secret underground waterways on their way to find answers in the Thieves’ Guild. As they journey far and wide, Jack frequently finds himself confronting his past, as images of his ill father and missing mentor disrupt his visions. This adventure reads like an urban version of preteen wizardry and maintains a dizzying pace that can’t quite disguise the essentially pedestrian nature of the central plot. The good-natured characters and their British humor distract readers from the lack of depth. Gwen is white, Jack is revealed to have a hitherto-unknown smidgen of Mongolian heritage, and there are several secondary characters of color.
Entertaining characters and a fast pace help to mitigate a lackluster plot. (Adventure. 8-12)