The Dead Gentleman by Matthew Cody

More steam-punk, time travel, kids-save-the-world with a dose of zombies, pirates, and intrepid explorers thrown in for good measure. Shake it all together, and you have an adventure story that answers the eternal question: “Should you be afraid of dark closets and basements and monsters under the bed at night?” (The answer, of course, is a resounding “YES!”)

Tommy is a nineteenth century Dickensian London street urchin who is recruited to join the Explorers’ Society, a group of men devoted to exploring portals to other worlds. Jezebel Lemon is a twenty-first century schoolgirl who lives in a New York apartment with her dad, an artist. When Tommy and Jez become partners, they have to find a way to save the world from the un-dead, Dead Gentleman.

I liked the friendship aspect of this story. What does it take to make people friends?What if a friend betrays you? What do friends do to balance each other and compensate for the other’s weaknesses? Tommy is a bit rash, rushing in where others fear to tread; Jez is more cautious, but she approaches bold and daring by the end of the novel. Then there’s also Bernard, another friend and ally who’s super-cautious, but loyal. The friends complement one another.

I didn’t much like the villains of the piece, not that you’re supposed to like villains. The Dead Gentleman and his henchman Macheath are a little too nefarious and mustache-twirling to be believed. However, each to his own villains, I suppose.

For middle grade steam-punk adventure fans, The Dead Gentleman is a solid entry in the genre. Recommended on the back cover by Pseudonymous Bosch.

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