The Lost Property Office, Baker Street Branch, in London is just a front for the secret Ministry of Trackers. And our hero, thirteen year old American boy Jack Buckles, finds out, by accident, that he is a Tracker, as was his father before him. Can Jack use his newfound tracking skills to find his father, who disappeared in London a few weeks ago without leaving a trace behind?
This fantasy adventure was exciting, but sometimes hard to follow. I almost wished for the movie version so that I could see the action, instead of trying to picture it myself from the descriptions in the book. If you’ve read this book I’d be curious to know whether you had the same problem. Maybe I just wasn’t a very good reader.
Jack teams up with a junior apprentice clerk named Gwen, and the two of them go off to save the world —and find Jack’s dad. The Macguffin is something called the Ember that may or may not have started the Great Fire of London back in 1666. So Gwen and Jack end up investigating the fire as well as looking for the Ember as well as attempting to rescue Jack’s dad. It’s all a little frustrating since Gwen is evasive and withholding of information. And Jack has just discovered his tracker abilities, which include being able to “spark” or see visions of the past by touching an object and channeling his thoughts into the history of that object. Jack is just learning to use his tracker talents, and Gwen is supposed to be helping him, but there’s a lot of stuff she’s not telling him.
I found Gwen’s “we’ll talk about that later” and “change the subject” when asked a direct question just as annoying as Jack did in the book. I wanted her to sit down and explain all about underground ministries and trackers and the number 13 and sparking all in one clear, concise speech, but I suppose that would have shortened the story considerably. At 387 pages, it could have afforded some cutting. I did like the historical aspects about the Great Fire and how it started.
Nevertheless, I recommend this book for fans of Trenton Lee Stewart’s The Mysterious Benedict Society or Jonathan Auxier’s Peter Nimble. It’s a good romp, and as I said, some of my issues may have been due to inattentive reading.