Title: The Lost Property Office (Section 13, #1)
Author: James R. Hannibal
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: Middle grade, fantasy
Setting: Modern day London
Source: I received this ARC in a Goodreads giveaway from the publisher.
Publication Date: Nov 8, 2016
James R. Hannibal presents a thrilling adventure through history, complete with mysteries, secret items, codes, and a touch of magic in this stunning middle grade debut.
Thirteen-year-old Jack Buckles is great at finding things. Not just a missing glove or the other sock, but things normal people have long given up on ever seeing again. If only he could find his father, who has disappeared in London without a trace.
But Jack’s father was not who he claimed to be. It turns out that he was a member of a secret society of detectives that has served the crown for centuries—and membership into the Lost Property Office is Jack’s inheritance.
Now the only way Jack will ever see his father again is if he finds what the nefarious Clockmaker is after: the Ember, which holds a secret that has been kept since the Great Fire of London. Will Jack be able to find the Ember and save his father, or will his talent for finding things fall short?
What I Say:
This book was a lovely mix of middle grade fantasy and London history. We meet Jack and his sister Sadie in a London hotel. Sadie wonders off looking for her father and Jack goes in search of her and finds not only his sister but the Lost Property Office. Here, we meet Gwen, an apprentice clerk. Gwen reveals the true nature of Jack’s dad’s work and how Jack is also a part of the Lost Property Office. Together, they meet the Clockmaker and discover that he is responsible for Jack’s father’s disappearance and in order to get his dad back alive, Jack must find the Ember and hand it over to the Clockmaker. Thus, the adventure begins as Gwen, trying to prove herself, helps Jack search for the lost Ember. Through their detective work, Jack learns more about the Lost Property Office as well as other secret societies that exist in London.
This book is full of fun, adventure, and laughter. It is cleverly written and hard to put down. I had a great time reading this book and I’m looking forward to future installments in the series. This is Hannibal’s first foray into middle grade writing and he does a superb job. He stays true to writing in the middle grade form, nothing overt in terms of language, violence, or Jack and Gwen’s relationship; he kept the focus on the kids’ adventure. I also loved the elements of steampunk added in for flavor. As if all that weren’t enough, you even learn about London’s Great Fire of 1666 in a clever and witty story.
I highly recommend this book to all middle grade readers and fans of adventure mysteries.