Hehir’s steampunk-inspired debut novel is an adventure through time and space.

In 1837 London, 14-year-old Julius Caesar Higgins spends his days dodging the local bully and helping at his grandfather’s rare-books shop. When a shady gentleman named Jack Springheel arrives looking for a mysterious diary, Julius runs away and makes a deal with him: self-defense lessons and a place to hide in exchange for the apparently long-lost diary of John Harrison, the 17th-century clockmaker and inventor of the chronometer. Harrison’s diary contains operating instructions for his third prototype, a time-travel device Springheel stole from its guardian, poet Percy Shelley. Seeing Springheel’s villainy, Julius teams up with professor Fox of the mysterious Guild of Watchmakers to stop him from using the device to take over a parallel world populated by repulsive but innovative creatures called Grackacks and exploiting Grackack technology to alter reality forever. Contemporary language (“gyp,” “Chinaman,” “oriental”) and the addition of historical figures, folklore and events lend an air of authenticity to the Victorian setting. The time-travel aspect can be a bit confusing, and readers may find themselves revisiting passages, but ultimately, they will be too wrapped up in the action to care. An epilogue hints at a second book.

Good, lively fun. (author’s note, glossary) (Fantasy. 12-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-922079-73-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Text

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes


From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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In an unnamed country (a thinly veiled Philippines), three teenage boys pick trash for a meager living. A bag of cash in the trash might be—well, not their ticket out of poverty but at least a minor windfall. With 1,100 pesos, maybe they can eat chicken occasionally, instead of just rice. Gardo and Raphael are determined not to give any of it to the police who've been sniffing around, so they enlist their friend Rat. In alternating and tightly paced points of view, supplemented by occasional other voices, the boys relate the intrigue in which they're quickly enmeshed. A murdered houseboy, an orphaned girl, a treasure map, a secret code, corrupt politicians and 10,000,000 missing dollars: It all adds up to a cracker of a thriller. Sadly, the setting relies on Third World poverty tourism for its flavor, as if this otherwise enjoyable caper were being told by Olivia, the story's British charity worker who muses with vacuous sentimentality on the children that "break your heart" and "change your life." Nevertheless, a zippy and classic briefcase-full-of-money thrill ride. (Thriller. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-385-75214-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2010

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