Operation Red Jericho: The Guild of Specialists, Book 1 Book Poster Image

Operation Red Jericho: The Guild of Specialists, Book 1

Top-notch, rip-roaring adventure with fantasy violence.

What parents need to know

Educational value

A wealth of historical, geographic, scientific, and period detail. Also, fans may be inspired to read the other books in this series.

Positive messages

Good versus evil themes as a brother and sister try to solve a mystery and get their missing parents back.

Positive role models

The siblings are reflexively disobedient and defiant, often putting themselves and others in extreme danger. But they are curious and adventurous -- and work together to save their parents and stay alive.  


Swordfighting, explosions, battles, murder, torture, dead and decaying bodies and body parts, rats and snakes, a pirate who cuts the little fingers off his still-living victims, including two of the characters, and wears them as a necklace.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some drinking and smoking, and opium is mentioned several times: an evil character uses it, and forces his captive to do the same.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that, though little is described in graphic detail, the level of violence is pretty high for a children's book. And while it is fantasy violence, it can be intense: At one point, the protagonists are chained for two days in a cage that floods almost to the top at high tide, and at another they are trapped in a flooding cave filled with rats and snakes. This book -- and its many sequels -- includes a wealth of historical, geographic, scientific, and period detail. Also, fans may be inspired to read the other books in this series. It also features curious and adventurous siblings who work together to save their parents and stay alive.  

Parents say

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What's the story?

In 1920, 15-year-old Becca and her 13-year-old brother Doug have had behavior problems since their parents disappeared a year ago. They have been expelled from several schools and bounced from relative to relative. Now they are sent to Shanghai to stay with their Uncle Fitzroy MacKenzie, captain of the research ship Expedient. But Capt. MacKenzie's ship holds many secrets, not least of which are the torpedo tubes and two powerful hidden naval guns on hydraulic lifts. Soon the siblings are literally up to their eyeballs (you'll have to read the book to find out how that can be literal) in an adventure involving vicious 20th century pirates, kidnappings, murder, gadgets, explosives, and a centuries-old secret society of which their parents may have been a part.

Is it any good?


This mystery/adventure is a delightful mix of Jules Verne, Tom Swift, and Sherlock Holmes. It combines swordfighting, exotic locales, lots of science and pseudo-science, photos, maps, appendices, and nonstop excitement, all making for a rich and stimulating reading experience. Purporting to be from a secret underground archive found when the author's great-aunt -- who was the young girl of the story -- died and left him her house, it boasts an incredible level of detail and extras. They show a devotion to the creation of this fictional society that borders on the obsessive. From the moment you pick up this book, it is purely enjoyable – the kind of plain, old-fashioned literary fun you rarely see nowadays.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about fantasy violence. Is it different than violence that takes place in a more realistic setting?

  • It may be fun to think about other kids who save the day -- like Alex Rider or the kids in The Mysterious Benedict Society. What do these kids have in common? What is appealing about these stories?

Book details

Author:Joshua Mowll
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Candlewick Press
Publication date:October 19, 2005
Number of pages:271
Publisher's recommended age(s):10 - 14

This review of Operation Red Jericho: The Guild of Specialists, Book 1 was written by

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Kid, 11 years old January 9, 2013

Ok for 4+

It's ok, a few swear words here and there, such as go* and he**, slow in the beginning and gets alot better in the last 3/4 of the book.
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008

Thrilling adventure

This story is one that is based on real things; it almost seems real that way. There are a few cuss words, but what would you expect from a sailor?? There is also lots of shooting, cutting,, etc. This story is so hard to grasp and give a review on... the plot is so "large" it's hard to sum everything up. The tale tells of two siblings, the Mackenzie kids. Their parents are missing, and so they are forced to live with relatives. Nobody will give them answers about their parents, so they set off to find them themselves. Their journey begins as they are staying with an uncle, who happens to be captain of a ship. Again, secrets are being kept from them, so they snoop a bit and find details of what their uncle and parents are involved in. That's really all I can say, or else I'll spoil the whole epic read. If you think that the book is dragging and boring, don't give up on it -- it's worth the read at the end, for they find companions who change their lives. Something cool about this book is that there are little references every so few pages. They are really interesting and help you to understand the book better.
Adult Written byhobo9880 April 9, 2008

it was great

This book would be good for a 6-7 grade historical ficton report