Thursday, May 1, 2014

ARC Book Review: Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times by Emma Trevayne

Title: Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times
Author: Emma Trevayne
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: May 13th, 2014
Rating: 4/5

Cover Impressions: 
One of the most beautiful middle grade covers that I have ever seen.  I love the colors and the detail in the city.  There is so much to look at, my eye keeps moving across the image to discover new details.  I can't wait to see this one in person.

The Gist:
When a mysterious magic man visits Jack Foster's mother, he is only slightly curious.  When this same man offers to take Jack away and teach him, he becomes more so.  When the man disappears through a mysterious doorway - Jack finds that he must follow him.  On the other side, he discovers a world that mirrors his own, but with strange and wondrous differences.  Metal seems to have permeated peoples' very bones and clockwork creatures roam the land.  It is ruled by a Lady that never ages and whose outrageous demands must be met or the world will face dire consequences.  Her newest desire is for Jack to act as her perfect, unaltered son.  Jack soon discovers that this mysterious world has a dark side and that he is not as safe as he might have thought.  With the doorway closed, he must find a new way to return home to London, and all his hopes rest in a fairy tale creature that may not even exist. 


Just one page in, this novel's narration style had won me over.  It was beautiful to the ear and I could almost hear Geoffrey Holder (the beautiful narrator from Charlie and the Chocolate factory) telling me the story in his deep tones.  The premise behind this story is really interesting and I love the idea of an alternative London, once that is much more dark and mysterious.  In the second half, we got to see a really fun twist on the phoenix myth and I appreciated the author's skill in making such an ancient and powerful story fit within the world that she had created.

I did find the main character a little difficult to like.  Jack wasn't particularly interesting and, for much of the book, merely allowed himself to be pulled along by the actions of the other characters rather than to be an active component in the plot.  This did get better in the second half of the book, once Jack falls from favor and learns about the darkness that really lurks in Londinium. I also didn't really connect with the two adults characters, Dr. Snailwater and Xeno, but I loved Beth.  It is strange, that, despite being the only character who is not quite human, she is the most fun and caring individual.  
I did have some issues with the ending, but only in that I wanted a little more information.  I would have loved to discover where the Lady came from and why she never ages, but I understand that this was not necessarily important to THIS story.  Perhaps a prequel or novella would satiate my curiosity.  

Flights and Chimes and Mysterious times features really lovely writing and a fun story.  I am still not a convert to the whole steampunk genre, but this is a much more enjoyable example than many of the others that I have read.

Teaching/Parental Notes:

10 and up
Sex: None
Violence: Hangings, Loss of a hand,
Inappropriate Language: None
Substance Use/Abuse: None


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