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by Louis L. Buitendag

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: March 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-935279-82-2
Publisher: Kane/Miller

Steampunk elements, a quest by a boy for his disappeared parents (who are actually British secret agents) and a desperate effort to rescue his older sister from sinister forces combine in this briskly paced adventure story set in an indeterminate past, most likely the early 20th century. Benjamin Sebastian Bloomswell has been brought from his home in London by his parents, who are going off on yet another “business trip,” to stay with an uncle in New York City for his safety. Things get ugly and dangerous quickly: News of his parents’ apparent death abroad hits the newspapers; Uncle Lucas is dispatched in a hurry; and Ben is kidnapped by nefarious goons and placed in an unsavory “orphanage,” from which he soon escapes. Risky, adventure-filled escapades ensue, and Ben eventually and improbably makes his way his sister in Switzerland, who is equally in danger. While much that occurs throughout is exciting, many plot details are wrapped up too neatly and too quickly, and many interesting points don’t seem to coalesce. Familiar tropes and a big but contrived surprise at the end—siblings off on a thrilling quest, unknown malevolent characters, the mysterious fate of the children’s parents and a brief reference from out of nowhere to a murky scientific experiment lurking in the wings—will appeal to readers, particularly undemanding ones. (Steampunk. 9-12)