The Lost Property Office

400p. (Section 13: Bk. 1). S. & S. Nov. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481467094.
Gr 4–7—Thirteen-year-old Jack and his little sister Sadie come to London with their mom in search of their missing dad. The kids stumble upon the Baker Street Branch of the Lost Property Office, managed by a Mrs. Hudson and established by the Ministry of Trackers. It turns out that Dad is really a Tracker, with a supernatural ability to read clues in stone (one that Jack shares) and he's been kidnapped by a mysterious Frenchman called the Clockmaker, who wants Jack to find the magical Ember, which started the Great Fire of 1666. Jack and a young apprentice clerk named Gwen experience a series of wild adventures through time and hidden, magical corners of the city (think "Harry Potter" meets Dr. Who, with steampunk-esque beetle drones). Jack discovers things about his family and their place in history that are beyond anything he could have ever imagined. Jack is originally described as having behaviors that could put him somewhere on the autism spectrum, but he doesn't show those behaviors past the opening chapters of the book. In fact, the characters are the least interesting part of this tale—it's the highly detailed magical world that stands out. Still, the ride is fast and fun.
VERDICT Buy where fantasy flies off the shelf.

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