Having met the author, seen him perform as the Great Wardini, and shopped at his beautiful bookstore, I really REALLY wanted to like this book. Friends who had gone to his Steampunk ball book launch had all raved about it (both the book and the ball), and while people always say not to judge book by its cover, I'm sorry but I do (and this one has such a wonderful cover).
I thought that because of all the high hopes and expectations I had for the book that there was no way it would be able to live up to them all.
I’m happy to say that I was wrong.
Gareth Ward wrote a magical adventure story that I could not put down. With spies, mysteries and Steampunk gadgets it was a wonderfully crafted story that has left me wanting more. The story follows Sin, a 14 year old orphan boy who lives on the streets and makes a living by stealing and fighting for a man named ‘The Fixer’. However one day he is offered an escape from his life of crime, and a chance to become a spy for COG (the Covert Operations Group). He is given new clothes, delicious food, and a luxurious place to sleep. It seems too good to be true. It doesn’t take Sin long to realise that there is a spy in COG and that if he wants to find out more about his mysterious past, he must first work out who the traitor is.
Who can he trust? A life of the street has meant that he thought he had all the skills needed to survive, but in secret organisations, surrounded by fighting experts and scientists he realizes that he might be outclassed.
The story also has an eccentric and interesting group of supporting characters. There is Zonda Chubb the tech-wizz, Velvet Von Darque the rich school bully, and a range of fascinating staff members at the school (including Major C who seems to be half man, half steampunk robot and a mysterious magician Noir).
Fans of Harry Potter, CHERUB, Alex Rider, Oliver, or really just fans of fun adventure stories - this book is for you.
Seriously Wardini - I hope you're writing the next one already!
Gareth Ward joins award winning writer Kate de Goldi in the Spiegeltent, Sunday 1 Oct, 2.30pm for It’s a Kind of Magic chaired by Jessica Soutar Barron. We’ll see you there!
Reviewed Sas Hill