Rating: Cannot Recommend
Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate, Young Adult
Author: James R. Hannibal
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Jack Buckles and his younger sister, Sadie, are stuck in London. Their mother has brought them there to search for their missing father. Disobeying orders to stay in the hotel, Sadie follows a man who looks like her father. Frantic, Jack follows Sadie’s trail. The two finally reunite in front of The Lost Property Office. They go inside for help and meet Gwen, an apprentice clerk. Suddenly, robotic beetles attack the building and separate Jack and Gwen from Sadie. The beetles were from the Clockmaker, the villain holding Jack’s dad hostage until Jack uses his gift of finding lost items to recover an item called the Ember. Jack and Gwen recover the Ember and meet the Clockmaker in The Great Clock Tower to make the trade. Jack and Gwen then stop the Clockmaker from using the Ember’s power to destroy London.
If there is one word to describe Hannibal’s book it would ironically be lost. This is because Hannibal recklessly plows ahead into his fantastical setting without giving readers time to acclimate themselves to their new literary surroundings. This discombobulation begins once Jack and Sadie enter The Lost Property Office, a time that should be dedicated to building Hannibal’s world. These scenes, like many after, are so rushed and convoluted that readers have no idea what rules and boundaries govern Hannibal’s story. To add more insult to injury, Jack spontaneously develops and masters his powers of sight and conveniently taps into his unknown ultimate-fighter skills all in a single day. This ridiculous suspension of disbelief is the last straw to finally shatter Hannibal’s well-meaning start to his new fantasy series.