The Extraordinary Journeys of Clockwork Charlie – The Kidnap Plot is the first novel I have read by Dave Butler. I met him several years ago, so I’m excited to finally review one of his works. I must say, it was a fun ride.
Charlie Pondicherry lives with his father in a rough part of town, where his father is an inventor and clockmaker. When his father is kidnapped one evening, Charlie has to figure out how to find and rescue him. Along the way, he makes friends with an eclectic group that includes a troll, a pixie, and a couple kids who want to be aeronauts. And the group that kidnapped his father will stop at nothing to get their hands on Charlie.
In the steampunk world of The Kidnap Plot, Butler creates a rich environment in which his characters live and have adventures. Rather than simply telling the reader about the world, Butler draws you in and lets you experience it. I could almost feel the grit and grime through his clear and vivid descriptions. He did an amazing job making everything—from the sewers to the rooftops—have real character.
Charlie is an interesting protagonist. He is naive, but very willing to learn, and he has a heart that makes you root for him from the very beginning. I loved his journey from a protected young mind to being able to stand on his own. The progress was gradual, like the slowly-rising sun, creeping over the chimneys and rooftops until everything is bold and clear as the morning mist is burned away.
The story was well paced, allowing time at the beginning to get to know Charlie and his Bap (father). Once the antagonists appear, The Kidnap Plot moves along at a comfortable pace, smooth as a well-oiled steam engine. The antagonists (there are several) are each interesting and have their own believable motivations. Butler doesn’t explain everything in this volume, which makes sense as this is the first book in a series. He gives just enough to give this volume a solid ending, but leaves things open for the coming stories.
I really enjoyed The Extraordinary Journeys of Clockwork Charlie – The Kidnap Plot. It is one that preteens and up will enjoy, especially if they love adventure and interesting characters. I will be recommending this book to several kids I know because I know they will enjoy it. If my descriptions here sounded fun, you will enjoy it, too. I can’t wait for the next book in the series!
Release Date: June 14, 2016 (USA)
ISBNs: 0553512951 (9780553512951)
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (very brief mentions of tobacco)
Violence: 2 (some scary moments, threats of violence, battles, some death)