A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
This is a dark story. The young hero, Modo, is a hunchback who is enlisted to work as a spy for a secret agency. He is not operating out of freewill, and his missions may not be wholly good.
Positive Role Models
Modo and the other agents think they are working for the good of London. There are distinctly evil characters at work, but the motives of the Permanent Guild are also questionable, especially their employment of children. There are some stereotypical characterizations of evil Germans.
Violence & Scariness
Adults and children are kidnapped, drugged, held captive, and have metal bolts implanted in them. Captives are enslaved and/or drugged to follow orders, including murdering their fathers.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
This is historical ficiton -- there are references to laudunum and opium. Some children and adults are enslaved by being forced to drink a tincture.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there are some mature elements in this dark story: young men murder their fathers; experiments are performed on children and adults. The poor treatment of children may be historically accurate but disturbing to younger readers today. There is no background information that explains why some of the villains are German, and female villains abound. There is some discomfort reading about children fighting evil adults without the magic powers that Harry Potter has available. This falls into the steampunk genre, which has dark story elements and is often, as here, set in the industrial age. This alternative history will be more appealing to older readers with some idea of the real history of the period and the elements being changed.
Is It Any Good?
This is a dark book with elements of horror and much manipulation of children by adults. Older readers into science fiction and steampunk may enjoy this book and the series to follow; younger readers will wish there were some humor and may miss the nuances of this alternative history. There is a young hero and heroine, but much violence against children, especially poor children who are kidnapped and turned surgically into machines and robots.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.