Book Review: The Alchemist War by John Seven
Title: The Alchemist War
Series: The Time-Tripping Faradays
By: John Seven
Author Info: Website | Twitter | Goodreads
Age Group: Middle Grade
Genre Type: Time-Travel, Science Fiction
Publication Date: July 1st 2013
Pages: 160 pages
Publisher: Capstone Children's
this series opener, a prank involving Hannibal’s elephants and a mouse
lands the Faradays in hot water with their employer, the Cosmos
Institute. They are consequently sent for punishment to 1648 Prague to
educate Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III about fashions in footwear.
Instantly bored for understandable reasons, teenage sibs Dawkins and
Hypatia fall in with Jan Richthausen, an alchemist who actually can turn
mercury into gold—using found technology more advanced than the
Faradays’ own. Somebody is meddling dangerously. In sharp contrast to
most authors who try their hand at time-travel tales, Seven has plainly
thought out consistent and (reasonably) plausible ways for his
characters to interact with the past without causing paradoxes or
catastrophic changes to the future. Though everyone in every era speaks
the same colloquial English and the source of the futuristic devices and
substances is never revealed in this setup episode, the author does
propel Dawk, Hype and his other lively characters through a rousing
multicentury chase that loops back around to close with tantalizing
hints of adventures to come. Summary and image from Goodreads.
FIRST SENTENCE: “How could Dawk have possibly known that one mouse could break down an entire army?”
WHY I WANTED TO READ THE BOOK: It’s been awhile since I’ve read a time-travel book, and The Alchemist War sounded like a fun and fascinating story. The premise of the book reminded me a little of The Magic Tree house series, and would be a perfecting next-step into the middle age reading group. What makes The Alchemist War such a great read is the use of time travel to incorporate the learning of history, all the while the humor, action, and mystery keeps you turning the pages. The author John Seven’s includes plenty of techno talk and cool gadgets to please even the most savvy of young readers, and the illustrations by Craig Phillips add to the books great visual appeal.
SETTING AND SUMMARY: The madcap twenty-fifth century, time-traveling Faraday family find themselves assigned to 17th century Prague after one of their temporal (time-travel) researches goes awry. Teenagers Dawk and Hype are punished for the near disastrous consequences to history, involving the Carthaginian leader Hannibal, some elephants, a bet involving mice, and the sacking of Rome. The teen’s parents, both devoted Professors, have dedicated their lives to gathering knowledge, and compiling it onto the NeuroNet. When the Faraday family is assigned to Prague, during the negotiations to end The Thirty Years War, the Faraday teens fear the worst: an uneventful and boring trip. But Dawk and Hype are in for a big surprise when they come across an Alchemist with the ability to turn metal into gold, and together they begin an adventure unlike any other.
CHARACTERS: The Faraday family starts of this new series with a bang. The parents, as professors, give the story a sense of direction and historical detail. Dawk and Hype, as teens, provide ample amounts of comic relief and excitement as they dash off to solve mysteries.
WHAT MADE THE STORY GREAT: I liked how the author John Seven was sneaky and incorporated some unique historical details and facts, all the while entertaining me with a madcap adventure. This is going to be a fun and exciting new series, and great way to introduce bits of history to early readers.
MY RATING: 4 Stars. I really liked it!
RECOMMENDATION: The Alchemist War should please children looking for a fun and adventures new series to dive into, and parents will be happy that there’s more than “fluff” and techno gadgets between the covers.ADDITIONAL NOTES: Thank you to Capstone Children's/NetGalley for the review opportunity.