Riley, a teen orphan boy living in Victorian London, has had the misfortune of being apprenticed to Albert Garrick, an illusionist who has fallen on difficult times and now uses his unique conjuring skills to gain access to victims' dwellings. On one such escapade, Garrick brings his reluctant apprentice along and urges him to commit his first killing. Riley is saved from having to commit the grisly act when the intended victim turns out to be a scientist from the future, part of the FBI's Witness Anonymous Relocation Program (WARP) Riley is unwittingly transported via wormhole to modern day London, followed closely by Garrick.
In modern London, Riley is helped by Chevron Savano, a seventeen-year-old FBI agent sent to London as punishment after a disastrous undercover, anti-terrorist operation in Los Angeles. Together Riley and Chevie must evade Garrick, who has been fundamentally altered by his trip through the wormhole. Garrick is now not only evil, but he also possesses all of the scientist's knowledge. He is determined to track Riley down and use the timekey in Chevie's possession to make his way back to Victorian London where he can literally change the world.
I liked this book a lot. It's a new middle-grade series from an author who clearly knows how to write for tweens (Artemis Fowl, anyone?). It's fast-paced, yet Eoin Colfer knows just how to weave in the technical details needed to explain time travel without bogging the story down. Loved how this story is great for both boys and girls.
My only trouble was with the shifting perspective--I was almost sorry when we shifted away from Chevie's perspective, since she had the fun voice. But the story was strong enough for me to forgive the shifts in point of view. Looking forward to next in the series.
How I found out about this book: advertising, which rarely works on me. I think it was in a School Library Journal newsletter.
Extra thought: I liked the U.K. cover so much better (here to the right). Why they opted for this other in the U.S., I don't know. It's not bad, but looks a little cheap and cheesy compared to the U.K. counterpart...