There is much to like in Winterson’s novel for older children (upwards). I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope it might have a sequel some time.
This fast-moving Fantasy/SF novel, (it’s a bit of both), about the power to control time, owes a lot to Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. It has a sparky young heroine, a Mrs Coulter-esque chief baddy who experiments on children, and most importantly, the McGuffin – the Timekeeper – the powerful device that everybody wants. Mix in a dash of quantum physics, teleportation, time travel, an underground world beneath London, an Egyptian temple and a strong supporting cast including a giant rabbit, and you have all the ingredients for a heady adventure full of excitement, thrills, spills and some rather scary moments too.
Silver, our heroine, lives in her old family home – Tanglewreck, with Mrs Rokabye as her guardian; her parents and sister having vanished previously. Weird things are beginning to happen with time – it’s warping, and time tornadoes have started to suck up and spit out people from different times and places. When Silver and Mrs Rokabye are approached by Abel Darkwater, a clock specialist who is searching for a old clock called the Timekeeper that Silver’s father had been custodian of, Mrs Rokabye sees her chance to make a fortune – if only Silver could remember where the clock is …
As an adult reader, I enjoyed the novel immensely, spotting all the references and influences and chuckling at the way the author warped space/time to work the plot. I think younger readers may be confused with the SF side of things reading it on their own, but it would make a great adventure for reading together; older readers will get the gist and will probably know a little about many of the historical characters mentioned. 9/10