Relocated to the family vineyard in upstate New York following the events of The Mona Lisa Key (2018), the time-traveling Hudson kids (and parents, this time) prepare for a chronologically challenging confrontation with Capt. Vincent.
Vincent’s escaped in the shape-shifting, time-traveling vessel Vermillion with the Obsidian Compass, the letter from its inventor, and, worst, Matt’s friend Jia. Frantic to rescue her, Matt builds a new compass. If it works, he and twins Corey and Ruby must then evade their watchful mom, Belamie, once Vermillion’s dashing, time-traveling French pirate captain. Orphaned in 1762, she lived on the streets until acquiring the compass at 15. With Vincent, she plundered and looted across centuries until she abandoned that life for marriage and a family. With Vincent at large, both parents keep the kids in the dark until Colombian adoptee Matt’s 13th birthday, when a chance discovery renders his new compass functional. He’s whisked back to the Vermillion when Belamie captained it, with near-catastrophic results. Despite failures, Matt keeps trying. The Hudsons are presumed white. Chinese orphan Jia; 14th-century Mali Empire princess Tui; and 20th-century African American Wiley add diversity. Each century-hurdling trip (to ancient Siberia, 1893 Chicago, and 1990s Los Angeles) adds new complications—and some add new time travelers. Tucked into head-spinning plot twists, surprises, and abrupt changes of century and location are thoughts on the nature of time itself that readers may stop to ponder before hurtling on to the next adventure; unanswered questions signal more to come.
Exhilarating. (Fantasy. 8-12)