Finished: Aug. 14, 2011
First Published: Aug. 1, 2011
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Genre: children, fantasy, steampunk
Now, for those of you who know anything about blind children, you are aware that they make the very best thieves.
Acquired: Received a review copy from Penguin Canada.
Reason for Reading: The plot sounded wonderful and the author is Canadian!
Peter Nimble doesn't really have a name but this is what he's called in the thieving world of a perhaps Victorian-like English town. He's made his own way in the world since discovered floating in a basket with his eyes pecked out by a raven. Now under the control of a wicked master who keeps him locked up and makes him thieve for his food Peter ventures upon a couple of strange men, Professor Cake and Mr. Pound who give him the adventure of his life. Along with a case which includes three sets of fantastic eyes, with unknown magical powers, and a partner Sir Tode, an unfortunate knight who was cursed by an old hag, he is sent to a Vanished Island with a mysterious riddle to help right the wrongs done there.
A wonderful story that quickly grabs your attention with delightful characters one becomes fond of right away. The outcome is predictable in a way but the getting there is a whole lot of fun filled with lots of adventure and action. The story is quite violent during the battle scenes, combatants on both sides are killed and the method is described in often uncomfortable detail, so the book is not for the sensitive or squeamish. But those who like "gross" will have a rollicking good time. A very unique story, unlike anything else out there right now, that combines magic with swashbuckling action with clockwork steampunk.
I only have one issue, being that the narrative crosses the line and talks to the reader as if someone were telling us a story. This is always a tricky thing in children's books and here the author has used the device sparingly but because of that, it felt jarring to me when every now and then the book would suddenly speak to me as I had nearly forgotten the device was in use. One final thing that I am very happy with is that the book ends on a final note, even mentioning how things turned out in the future for the characters that, I think, we can be sure that this is a stand-alone novel. I'm glad to read a new author who has presented us with a full story in one book and not attempted the tired routine of beginning yet another series. Good book! I look forward to author's next work.