"Caroline Lawrence must be single-handedly responsible for educating older school pupils about Rome. I'm sure her Roman Mysteries have taught kids more about Roman life than any school lesson."
Time travel / Young Adult
Caroline Lawrence must be single-handedly responsible for educating older primary school pupils about Rome. I'm sure her Roman Mysteries have taught kids more about Roman life than any school lesson. And she is absolutely back with this book about time travel.
Year 8 pupil Alex lives with his gran, his parents having been killed in a car crash. It isn't a life of luxury but he is happy and loves his gran and her weird hippy ways very much. But he wants more for her. So when he is approached by his headmistress to visit a billionaire one Saturday, he goes along.
The billionaire, Solomon Daisy, is obsessed with ancient Rome and in particular the remains of a young girl discovered in London whose DNA profile showed her to have blue eyes and yet come from North Africa. So he does what all billionaires do, he changes the rules and builds a time machine. As people who time travel age quicker, he wants a child to go back and find the girl. Alex has little to go on; a knife with a handle in the shape of a leopard that was found with her. No more. But with millions of pounds as a reward for finding her, Alex doesn't care and opts to go on a dangerous adventure, with an unexpected travelling-mate in the Romanian bully who steals his crisps.
This is, as you would expect, a young adult, early teen book and it reads as such, but Ms Lawrence is so skilled that there is still plenty to amuse and entertain an adult. A quick read, it could be finished in little more than an hour-and-a-half, plenty of detail that brings Roman Londinium to life for even the most haughty reader, stuffed full of imagery and sounds and smells and comparisons so that younger readers can grasp the more complicated ideas.
There are twists, fun and fear, gore - enough to satisfy an adenture-loving boy, and a wonderful turn of events at the end to prove that you really can't judge by appearances. A gem of a book that will have you reaching for the opening times to the Museum of London.
© Nicky Galliers
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