I have to be honest, when I first requested this on NetGalley, I didn’t realise this book was part of a series and, embarrassingly, it took me a while to realise once I’d started. So, what was I going to do at that point? Stop reading altogether? I was invested now. And who is to say that you can’t just totally ignore the first book in a series? Well, pretty much everyone but it’s okay. This was a children’s book and, if I’ve learnt anything from trying to re-read The Chamber of Secrets over and over again, it’s that the second book in a kid’s fantasy series is just going to recap the whole of the first book anyway. In the case of JK Rowling, that almost literally means retelling the whole story whilst writing some half-arsed plot about a massive snake. Sorry to go off track as always but I bloody hate The Chamber of Secrets. Nothing happens for the first 2/3 chapters. It’s just Harry thinking about everything he did in his first year. It’s no wonder she had to keep spacing out her releases. It’s only when you read those babies back to back that you realise how repetitive she is. But, let’s not let She Who Must Not Be Praised ruin this extra bookish post. On with the review I should have written on Wednesday.
Moonlocket takes us right into the heart of a steampunk Victorian London. A London where we can find clockwork creatures come to life, airships, underground railways, and psychics. A London that is also the home of the notable escaped prisoner Jack Door. Jack has just broken out of prison to pick up the treasure he stole years earlier. The only clue lies within the mysterious Moonlocket. Unfortunately for Jack, the locket is intercepted by young Robert who quickly realises that the piece of jewellery is also tied up to his long-lost mother. Can Robert, his friend Lily, and the mechanical fox, Malkin, learn the secrets before Jack gets hold of them?
The story takes place about eight months after the events of the first book and references several aspect of that story. However, I don’t think I was at all at a disadvantage by not having read that story. Yes, there were probably great details that went over my head but there are enough callbacks to the first book to get the gist. You quickly get to grips with the characters and how they came to be together. So, you can enjoy watching them working together here without any in-depth knowledge of the events that have already unfolded.
Which is good because Moonlocket is an incredibly sweet story. It has a wonderful message of not judging books by their covers and true friendship that will keep both children and their parents happy. Lily struggles under the weight of her father’s fears whilst also mourning for her mother. She wants to prove that she is strong enough without defying his wishes. Robert misses his recently deceased father and tries desperately to track down his mother to find that missing family connection. The two of them are true friends and help fill the holes missing in each other’s lives. Risking their lives to protect each other and following their lead no questions asked. No matter how dangerous.
And there are times when this books gets quite dark and violent. There are a few grisly deaths either mentioned or seen that seemed a little at odds with the audience’s age. But, for the most part, this is just a fun adventure story that takes places in a familiar but new world. I have to admit, I was a little unsure of Bunzl’s London but I wasn’t sure if that was because I’d missed something in the last book. It seemed a bit confused for me. Like Steampunk but with unnecessary extras added on top. It seemed kind of over-the-top. Especially when this is the kind of story that deserves to be seen in its full glory, sans distractions.
Of course, I’m really just looking for something to criticise because this book was so enjoyable. You can’t help but get caught up in the journey and mystery at its heart. It’s fun-filled romp perfect for children to get stuck into. It is a sophisticated read but not too grown-up. The story is earnest without being too preachy or schmaltzy. Basically, it’s just a great book.