It’s always super exciting to review books by Aussie authors!
Thank you Text Publishing for the ARC! The Firebird Mystery by Darrell Pitt hits shelves on February 26th, 2014!
Jack Mason has grown up as an acrobat in a circus. Now, after the tragic death of his parents, he must live inside the gloomy walls of Sunnyside Orphanage in London, a city of fog and snow, filled with airships, steam cars and metrotowers that stretch into space.
Luckily for Jack, he’s taken under the wing of the brilliant and eccentric detective Ignatius Doyle. Little does he know how dangerous life is about to become.
A girl named Scarlet Bell comes seeking the great detective’s help. Her father has been kidnapped, and the future of the world itself may be at stake. Is the evil hand of Professor M pulling all the strings? Mr Doyle and Jack know there is no time to lose.
With all its twists and turns and helter-skelter action, The Firebird Mystery is an addictive story and a spellbinding homage to the world of Victorian literature that will appeal to readers of all ages.
I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I had some positive feedback from a teacher in high school. Rather than becoming the next Stephen King I became a husband and a father instead and I’m fortunate to have such a wonderful family.
Steampunk, atomic bombs, detectives and some clever Sherlock Holmes references? A recipe for an excellent Middle Grade novel, right? Kind of.
I liked this book. It was clever. It was strong. It was pretty concise, and it had interesting (if seen-it-before) characters. It just wasn’t stand-out-from-the-shelf-and-love-it.
I believe that a Middle Grade book should still be kind of fun for teens, too. I read Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins earlier this year and really liked it. It was MG, written for the exact same age group. What’s the difference, then? (I may have been a little biased because IT’S SUZANNE COLLINS, but I was a bit biased with this book because THE AUTHOR IS AUSTRALIAN! So there.)
It reminded me of Ranger’s Apprentice. You know. Orphan kid is taken to work with an eccentric man who is one of the lone professionals in his field, where they discover a mystery of intrigue and not much food? Yeah.
It also had an RA vibe in some good ways. Like the humour. This book was really funny in some places. Just not very often. It could have been a whole lot funnier, I think.
As I said, the characters were interesting. Jack Mason, the MC, was an ex-trapeze artist orphan (what a title). His trapeze skills were really only used in one action sequence, but I forgive it, because they’ll make use of them in later books (According to the acknowledgements, this will be an eight book series. Whew.) Jack was cool, I guess. Smart. Humble. Could have had more quirks. Scarlet was also fun. She was the go-getter feminist girl in a bustle. I liked her, even though she was a little cliche (I wonder how many Scarlets in the world grew up to keep their red hair? Don’t people’s hair usually get lighter or darker as they grow up? Doesn’t the same go for gingers?) Anyway. She was the classic spunky redhead. Not much else. But an enjoyable one.
Also, historically, the plane and the radio had both been invented by World War II. I don’t think powering the world on steam would stop those things from being invented… Just saying.
All in all: It was good, but not compelling.
Mime is thinking about music theory and how she needs to do some. Minor seconds don’t make sense. The “leading note to tonic” rule works though. That’s about it. Sighs and dreams of chocolate, school is going well for her. PE has not yet killed her and art consists of throwing paint on paper as a sky, and then mopping it into submission. Good times.