I’ve just finished a wonderful book called COGHEART by Peter Bunzl. I think its age range is supposed to be pre-teen but frankly it could be enjoyed by anyone from 8 to 80, as far as I’m concerned. It reminded me of the Joan Aiken books (Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Night Birds on Nantucket) I read when I was younger and if you’re looking for a Christmas present for a passing child this will do nicely.
The story is set in an alternative Victorian universe (1896) and it starts with John Hartman and his mechanical fox Malkin being pursued by a Zeppelin. Malkin is put in the escape capsule with a note to John’s daughter, Lily. She is in a terrible school where she is practising her lock picking skills and reading her Penny Dreadfuls. Excellent heroine!
Robert Townsend is a clockmaker’s son, who is drawn into the story when he spies Malkin being pursued by the terrifying baddies – Roach and Mould. He puts them off the scent and then repairs Malkin and winds him back up again. Malkin is an excellent character, ingenious and mouthy. Just the kind of fox you would want to rescue you from trouble.
The world setting is excellent part Victorian, part alternative universe; it is inhabited by humans, mechanicals, mechanimals, and hybrids. There are some vile baddies and some splendid oaths: ‘Cogs and chronometers’ probably being my favourite. If you’re interested in airships and Zeppelins there’ll be enough detail to keep you entertained. The book ends with a thrilling denoument on top of Big Ben. A splendid story sweetly told. It left me with a longing for a mechanical fox called Malkin. Well, one can always dream. Are you listening Santa?
Finally, this is the 100th post of this blog and so it’s an opportunity to thank those of you stalwarts who have supported the blog from the beginning and welcome more recent followers. Thank you for following and welcome. I hope you enjoy the ride although unfortunately it won’t be in a Zeppelin!
What is your favourite book that you read as a child?