This book has a male main character who is older than middle-grade, but this too action-filled and enjoyable for anyone of middle-grade age to pass up. A few strong female characters, but they have minor roles.
About 300 pages.
In short: Jack, the son of extremly talented metal-working parents, goes in search of them after they disappear for over a year, supposedly in service to England’s Queen Victoria. In search for his parents, he finds a mysterious metal object that could only have been made by his father, in a tent at the 1851 World’s Fair…and a friendly gentlemen who helps him break into the case for the object in order to examine it better. Little does he suspect that Jack will come back later to steal it…
Jack is a complete and utter brat…but only where finding his parents is concerned. He starts off by stealing a horse from a military officer, going from crime to crime until the only thing for it is for the gentleman, who is really Prince Albert (the Queen’s husband), and his gang of bodyguards to make him their ally in the fight to find Jack’s parents and save the kingdom from overthrow and destruction. Lots of fast action, and lots of political conflict, which usually means for a slower-paced book, but only serves to make things more tense and fast-paced here. I barely noticed the pages flying by.
Book Description (from Amazon):
Jack has been wondering about the disappearance of his father for over a year now. Tucked away in the remote village of Rothchild, all the children have been living on their wits since their parents were carted away by order of the Queen. When a passing stranger entrusts him with stabling his horse for the night, Jack takes the opportunity to ride as fast and far as he can out of town and toward London. His plan is to find his father, but with no money and little knowledge of the world, he finds danger and adventure instead. It doesn’t help that the closer he comes to finding his father, the closer he comes to uncovering a ruthless plot to overthrow the monarchy. What begins as a simple journey quickly turns into a swashbuckling adventure of epic proportions as Jack is joined by none other than Prince Albert himself. With the help of the Prince’s royal bodyguards and Jack’s own scrappy courage, they just might be able to uncover the truth of the plot against the throne, Jack’s missing father, and the mysterious Doomsday Device that threatens them all.
About the Author (from Amazon):
Clive London is a historian living in Oxfordshire, England. His knowledge of history strongly influences his writing. His debut novel, Prince Albert and the Doomsday Device, is a children’s steampunk novel set in an alternative Victorian era. He is a fan of steampunk fiction, young adult books, and classic authors such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.
Kirkus Reviews praises Clive London and Prince Albert and the Doomsday Device:
“Author London’s book seems aimed at young adult readers, but it’s free of condescension and is wholly gratifying rather than stripped of components in an effort to achieve simplicity.”
“Lyrically descriptive and unabashedly steampunk; the first of what promises to be a rewarding series of novels.”