Secrets of the Dragon Tomb by Patrick Samphire, Holt, N.Y., $19.50
Fans of Ken Oppel’s wonderful steampunk trilogy (Airborn, etc.) will enjoy this rousing and funny adventure novel starring a plucky family of heroes and heroines.
Set in 19th century Mars in upper-class British society, the plot is filled with dangerous villains and daring rescues.
Twelve-year-old Edward feels like the parent to his slightly dysfunctional family which includes a brilliant but absent-minded inventor dad, a social climbing mom and three very different sisters.
He yearns to become a spy just like his hero in Thrilling Martian Adventures and an opportunity soon comes for him to prove his abilities.
Edward’s spying skills are tested to their limits when his sort-of cousin Freddy turns up with questions about his dad’s latest invention.
Freddy turns out to be much more than the addlepated university student he pretends to be as the whole family is thrust into a deadly intrigue involving evil Sir Titus and tall and menacing native Martians.
The attempt to uncover and steal antiquities from an ancient dragon tomb must be thwarted by none other than Edward and his annoyingly clever little sister.
Can they rescue their kidnapped mama and papa? What is cousin Freddy really trying to do?
Where is the hidden dragon tomb and will Edward and Putty find it in time to save their parents?
Readers will be fascinated by the many hair-raising twists and turns in a story that races to a thrilling conclusion.
Samphire’s story is akin to the many boys’ adventure series of the early and mid-twentieth century.
The good guys are going to win in the end but it’s a roller coaster ride getting there.
For ages 10-12. A sequel (The Emperor of Mars) will be published soon.
Fran Ashdown was the children’s librarian at the Capilano Branch of the NV District Library. She remembers reading her dad’s collection of Roy Rockwood adventure novels as a child. For more information check your local libraries.