A few days ago I finished Gideon the Cutpurse by Linda Buckley-Archer, the first book in The Gideon Trilogy (also known as The Time Quake Trilogy in America). I enjoyed it, but I wasn’t ecstatic about it. I’ll keep reading the trilogy, to see if it gets better, which I hear it does!
Peter Shock’s au pair takes him up to the English countryside when his father has to go to an important meeting rather than take him out for his birthday. There, Peter meets the Dyer family. Dr. Dyer, Kate (the oldest Dyer child), and Peter go to Dr. Dyer’s lab to check on a few things, when the Dyers’ dog Molly gets loose in the lab. While chasing her, the kids see a flash of light and wake up in an unfamiliar place.
They soon discover that they are in the exact same spot they were before, just in the wrong time. They’re in 1763 and the machine that accidentally brought them there has been taken by The Tar Man, an evil rogue whose plans for them are unknown, but undoubtedly sinister.
When the children arrived, someone other than The Tar Man saw them: Gideon Seymour, cutpurse and gentleman. Gideon begins to help the kids, watching over them as they figure out how to get back home.
The high points: A successful premise and attention to detail. The kids were in a dire situation, I always like a good time-travel story, and Ms. Buckley-Archer pays close attention to every facet of the historical period. One of the classic facets of time-travel stories is the reaction of the characters to their new situation, which is done here as an educational tool.
At the same time, the story moved a little slowly; I wasn’t pushed to keep reading. There were some predictable moments–at the beginning the au pair talks to Peter about Samuel Johnson, and he just happens to go to Johnson’s time period and meets him!
Now, I may just be judging a little harshly, as this is an older children’s/younger teen book, and some simplicity is required. So, it didn’t turn me off, it just didn’t add anything to the overall feel.
Overall, good book, not the greatest in the world, but kudos to Ms. Buckley-Archer for attention to detail and really utilizing imagery to illustrate the time period.