Sunday, January 13, 2008

Linda Buckley-Archer

The Time Travelers
by Linda Buckley-Archer
Recommended Age: Age: 12+

Previously published under the title Gideon the Cutpurse, this book is now designated as Book One in The Gideon Trilogy. It's funny how these things go. And speaking of funny, there is a certain ghastly humor in the way two present-day English kids, Peter and Kate, are zapped back in time to 1763. But the adventure that follows this accident is not so much funny as scary, thrilling, touching, and ultimately heart-wringing.

This is not one of those tales where the kids vanish into another world while, back in the real world, nobody notices what's going on. With the weird logic that only exists in time-travel stories, author Buckley-Archer follows the parallel stories going on in the 18th and 21st centuries: the children's quest to get the antigravity machine, which took them back in time, out of the clutches of the wicked Tar Man and the even wickeder nobleman he works for, and the parents' anguish as they try to figure out what has become of their missing kids, who keep making ghostly appearances up and down the country.

Kate's dad knows something, but he can't tell - which leads you to share a police detective's satisfaction when Peter's dad gives Kate's dad a punch in the mouth. Government secrecy is tangled up with the terrifying question of what the existence of time travel could do to our world, while two terrified children long for home so much that they occasionally "fade" out of the 18th century and into the 21st, just for a moment. Their hopes of getting home are not helped by the wiles of a rich villain who will stop at nothing to destroy the one friend the two children depend on the most: Gideon Seymour, a reformed cutpurse who is increasingly trapped by the master he once served.

Both plot lines come to a head in an agonizingly intense sequence that involves a public hanging at Tyburn. Beyond that, my lips are sealed...except, you know there are going to be two more books in the series. The next one is called The Time Thief, and I look forward to it eagerly.

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