I was sent this book as a free review copy, and as I read – because I tend not to read blurb before my review reads – it became immediately clear that this was the second in a series. Because I had also not read the first instalment, this fact did give me a few problems, in terms of context, setting and character backstory; I had to piece much of this together myself. There were even aspects – such as the era in which it is set – which I didn’t realize until right near the end; for example, when the characters in the photograph are revealed, I found myself totally baffled, as I had no reason before that not to think that the present in the book takes place in our own modern times. My advice, therefore, in a nutshell, is that this book will probably make a good deal more sense if you first read its predecessor “The Translucent Boy and the Girl Who Saw Him”.
Still, once I got the gist, I was able to ease in relatively easily to the events, at least in the book’s first half. The “…Cat Who Ran Out of Time” is good fun for kids, from a quality author with a highly organized and creative imagination, and I really enjoyed seeing how the supernatural tension grew in the first half, as the super duo investigated the mysterious apparition “The Lady in Black”, against the backdrop of paying mood homage to Sherlock Holmes and “The Hound of the Baskervilles”. I enjoy children’s mystery books, and have to admit I found myself utterly engaged, at least right up until midway. However, at that point the book veered off into a completely different direction: that of full-blown sci-fi fantasy. Don’t get me wrong – it was very clear from early on that the two main characters were intergalactic/interdimensional travellers, and I’m sure – based on their reminiscences of extraordinary events – that there was a good deal more sci-fi fantasy in its prequel, but still I found myself a touch disappointed that it did not continue down the Conan Doyle-style supernatural mystery path, a genre I am undoubtedly more comfortable; though, of course I acknowledge the role of my own personal taste in this matter. I have to admit, once our super team started travelling on their quest to find the missing family in the photograph, I did find myself struggling a touch more to concentrate; as the young heroes bounded from one scenario to the next, to be honest, I was finding it harder to keep up with why.
I found the book a touch long, and felt it would probably have flowed slightly better without some of the events of its middle third. But, Hoffman has a wonderful imagination, and doesn’t do overkill with it, like many sci-fi fantasy authors. The book is presented very well and I am sure that the author will achieve deserved success from this series, in which I have no doubt he will continue to write prolifically.
In : Book Reviews
Tags: tom-hoffman sci-fi fantasy time-travel childrens-books mystery