Friday, July 18, 2008

The Traitors' Gate

Avi. 2007. The traitors' gate. New York: Atheneum.

So many books, so little time - especially with summer reading in full swing, so I've tried to choose my summer reading books carefully. Avi's name appears on many school summer reading lists, so I tried out another of his latest books, The Traitors' Gate.

The Traitors' Gate is an historical fiction mystery that brings Dickensian London to life in a plot with as many twists and turns as the mean streets of the Rookery of St. Giles, a downtrodden neighborhood where fourteen-year-old John Huffam takes refuge with Sary the Sneak. Scotland Yard, the Tower of London, London's famous fog, debtors' prison, shabby butlers, spies, sneaks and traitors - they're all here in this richly developed story.

The mysterious Mr. O'Doul has filed a writ against John's father which threatens to send him to the notorious debtor's prison at Whitehall. But who is this Mr. O'Doul? And why is Scotland Yard investigating? Why is John being followed? Will Great Aunt Lady Euphemia Huffman assist the family in its dire circumstances? Young John Huffman has more questions than answers and the plot thickens every day,

"I had often - surely by my mother - been accused of having far too much fancy for my own good. But at that moment I was quite convinced that no one was telling me the truth!"

John must untangle the web of lies, deceit, and subterfuge on his own in this compelling mystery.

Avi, a fan of Charles Dickens, pays him homage in this thoughtful mystery set in the underbelly of London society in the late 1840s.

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