Sadly me mateys, it is time to abandon ship!
the lost property office (James R. Hannibal)
Ye see, I got this one from a local library. which of course has deadlines. Despite the short length and the adequate time before the return date, I read a little over half of the novel before the book was due. Now normally that would make me one grumpy Captain. I just shrugged and put the book on hold again. Should have been a sign. Then I got the novel a second time and started readin’ again only to bail out.
This book started out strong. The story concerns Jack Buckles who is in London with his family because his father has died . . . or has he? Turns out Jack is the 13th Buckles and thus a tracker in a secret society who has secret abilities.
I adore the setting and the premise of the story. It deals with the real life mystery of the Great Fire of London in 1666 whose cause remains unknown to this day. There is a nice blending of historical people and places. There were some nods to Sherlock and Watson. I loved the magic properties of “sparking.” The ideas of the second secret London Tube system were particularly lovely. I so wanted it to exist. It made me miss living in London with a fierce ache.
Then why abandon it? Small things that added up. Basically Jack spends over half the book bumbling around clueless and being dragged around by Gwen, a girl who has grown up in the secret society. Gwen has answers to many of Jack’s questions. However, there is so much action, that most of the time ye find out the answer after something has happened in a “info-dump” dialogue format while they are running to their next action setting. It started to bug me.
Other small details: Sadie, Jack’s sister, is around in the beginning to help set-up the story then conveniently “gets locked up” early on and Jack just leaves her there. The villain was introduced early on and seemed rather two dimensional. The sheer number of buildings, towers, and streets that the characters visit for what seems like moments before dashing away again.
It just didn’t float me boat. I know it is a series and so perhaps the info-dumps will lessen and the plot will thicken but I will not be perusing the rest. I am in the minority on this one it seems so feel free to disagree with me and point me towards yer opposing reviews!
Goodreads has this to say about the novel:
James R. Hannibal presents a thrilling adventure through history, complete with mysteries, secret items, codes, and a touch of magic in this stunning middle grade debut.
Thirteen-year-old Jack Buckles is great at finding things. Not just a missing glove or the other sock, but things normal people have long given up on ever seeing again. If only he could find his father, who has disappeared in London without a trace.
But Jack’s father was not who he claimed to be. It turns out that he was a member of a secret society of detectives that has served the crown for centuries—and membership into the Lost Property Office is Jack’s inheritance.
Now the only way Jack will ever see his father again is if he finds what the nefarious Clockmaker is after: the Ember, which holds a secret that has been kept since the Great Fire of London. Will Jack be able to find the Ember and save his father, or will his talent for finding things fall short?
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