George and his friend Ada Byron are swept up in an adventure when the house next to George’s on Dorset Square is newly occupied by a scheming villain in this sequel to The Inventors at No. 8 (2018).
Twelve-year-old George, the third Lord of Devonshire, grows truffles in his damp attic for a living and enjoys a friendship with Lord Byron’s clever daughter, Ada. Unjustly accused of trying to poison the king, George must escape imprisonment. Behind this plot is the new neighbor, Don Nadie, or “Nobody,” whose reprehensible plan is to corral the world’s best scientists in this ante-Victorian era and build an unbeatable weapon. The narrative point of view stays with George as he and Ada make several daring escapes; travel seas in a mechanical whale of Ada’s making; find their friend Oscar, Oscar’s pirate father, and the orangutan Ruthie; and visit both the Alhambra and an island in the Galápagos. The treasure-map puzzle George’s grandfather left him is always on his mind. Though he believes himself cursed with bad luck, George’s resilience and optimism are apparent, and revelations about his heritage allow him to grow in confidence. Morgen’s jam-packed plot is well-focused and filled with excitement and humor, and it clearly delights in extravagant technological invention. Most characters are default white, with brown-skinned, mixed-race Oscar and some other secondary characters notable exceptions.
Swashbuckling fun. (Adventure/steampunk. 9-13)