A review of Peregrine Harker & The Black Death

“For those who have been asking for more ‘boy’ books in Middle Grade, here’s one for you. Peregrine Harker is very much a boy’s adventure novel. It’s a fast paced read, focusing on the adventures of the title character as he uses his intrepid journalistic skills to uncover a plot bound up in tea and smuggling. There are chases, rescues, twists, and a pretty satisfying resolution that gives readers the idea that more may be coming from Harker and company.

The book is written in the Victorian/Edwardian style of adventure books. If you’re a fan of steampunk, this should appeal to you as well—there’s some gadgetry going on, not to mention an amazing car (with a sort of driver/butler/bodyguard), and a few steampunkish tropes that pop up to give the book an “out ߋf time” feel. There’s a bit of the penny dreadful in the novel as well, what with a damsel (not usually in distress as she rescues the hero quite often) who is to be married off against her will to some ne’er-do-well who is the sworn enemy of the hero.

Reading it I was reminded of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer and of Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. A strange mashup, I know, but that’s what hit me when I would put the book down. It makes it hard to categorize. I was also reminded of Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula, but I think that had to do with the Victorian references…

The story is well told and blasts along at a good pace, with some truly fun action scenes. At base, it is a detective story and the mystery is engaging and fun with the right amount of menace. I enjoyed the secondary characters more than Peregrine himself, as sometimes he seemed more like a piece that got us into the action with the really interesting people. Oh the whole, I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys steampunk and historical fiction with a detective bent.” ‒ Reviewer, USA

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