Hilton tells a creative tale of a magical rural village in England.
Uncle Harry Finkle is an elderly man who keeps the village of Finkleton running smoothly; each farm receives exactly the correct amount of rain for the crop grown in its field. Finkleton has never had a bad crop or an unsuccessful business, and nobody ever wants to sell land to outsiders, however desperately the interlopers want to buy. After an unexpected incident, three resident children named Jack, Robert and Lizzy inherit their Uncle Harry’s general store, as well as all its secrets. As the children make discoveries, they find it necessary to keep secrets from their parents, thinking that it’s in their best interest. Hilton writes this tale in a clean, smooth and straightforward manner. Although more mature audiences will easily discern the plot’s movement, there are enough surprises to keep all readers interested. The book moves along smoothly from beginning to end, with realistic portrayals of sibling disagreements, as well as solidarity, throughout the book; conversations and arguments between the siblings suggest Hilton is savvy about familial politics. The author provides little depth to certain characters, notably the parents, though as the central focus of the book, the children are more richly constructed. Setting details are sparse, with the exception of three rooms in the basement of the general store in which most of the book’s action takes place. The author introduces magical artifacts such as hourglasses, scrolls and weathered maps with a perspective that is fresh and unique. Children and young adults alike will relate to the protagonists and may learn some moral lessons as the children decide to use the magical talismans for the good of the town, and not merely for their selfish desires.
A solid, simple read that encourages altruism while remaining lighthearted.