From Goodreads: Riley, a teen orphan boy living in Victorian London, has had the misfortune of being apprenticed to Albert Garrick, an illusionist who has fallen on difficult times and now uses his unique conjuring skills to gain access to victims’ dwellings. On one such escapade, Garrick brings his reluctant apprentice along and urges him to commit his first killing. Riley is saved from having to commit the grisly act when the intended victim turns out to be a scientist from the future, part of the FBI’s Witness Anonymous Relocation Program (WARP) Riley is unwittingly transported via wormhole to modern day London, followed closely by Garrick.
In modern London, Riley is helped by Chevron Savano, a seventeen-year-old FBI agent sent to London as punishment after a disastrous undercover, anti-terrorist operation in Los Angeles. Together Riley and Chevie must evade Garrick, who has been fundamentally altered by his trip through the wormhole. Garrick is now not only evil, but he also possesses all of the scientist’s knowledge. He is determined to track Riley down and use the timekey in Chevie’s possession to make his way back to Victorian London where he can literally change the world.
This was an interesting time-travel novel that I think MG and YA readers will like, especially if they’re a fan of Eoin Colfer. I’ve only read one other of Colfer’s books, and while I liked it, and I liked this novel as well, I didn’t fall in love with either. The characterization is good, and the events are quick and energetic, but the novel itself just never pulled me in to the point where I just couldn’t get enough.
I liked getting to know Riley, but as a character, he almost seemed like a pushover. And I didn’t care for Chevron much. She’s a bit of a typical teenage female trying to save face, believing she’s tougher and better than those around her, and her lack of humility and ability to stop and listen to those around her really rubbed me the wrong way. She does redeem herself throughout the novel, so I did get to the point where I liked her enough, but I never really got beyond that point, and a lack of connections between myself and the characters always makes it difficult for me to fall in love with the novel.
Colfer definitely has a knack for imaginative literature, though, and the situations these young teens find themselves in were interesting and piqued my interest enough to keep me turning the pages, and enough for me to be curious concerning the next installment. I really liked the idea of a wormhole and sending important witnesses back in time to keep them safe, and the revelation of who Riley really is was great. I didn’t see it coming, but it made perfect sense and I really enjoyed how Colfer made it all come together. Overall, this is a pretty good read. Three stars.
Disney Book Group has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its official release on May 7, 2013.