A solitary boy with a penchant for finding “spots where no one would ever think to look” finds a mysterious watch and unravels a series of startling secrets.
Growing up in shabby New Umbra, white, 11-year-old Reuben lives with his widowed mother. Exploring a precarious ledge, Rueben finds a case containing a spherical watch that enables him to become temporarily invisible. Excited and empowered, Reuben experiments with his secret watch but is worried when he hears that The Smoke, an ambiguous character controlling New Umbra, is desperate to find the watch and has his bullies searching for it. An inscription on the watch case leads Reuben to a lighthouse where a young white girl named Penny reveals a long-kept family secret. Reuben discovers there are really two watches and whoever holds both becomes immortal. Convinced The Smoke already possesses the other watch, methodical Reuben must rely on moxie and wits to confront him on his own turf. Despite the novel’s daunting length and Reuben’s tendency to overthink everything, there are enough hidden tunnels, concealed traps, enigmatic secrets, hair-raising surprises, quirky characters, and ethical dilemmas to keep the plot buzzing. Sudyka supplies atmospheric black-and-white spot illustrations done in ink and wash.
Fans of The Mysterious Benedict Society (2007) will welcome Stewart’s latest puzzling adventure, whose seemingly ordinary hero proves quite extraordinary. (Adventure. 8-12)