We pick up right where Cogheart (the first book in series) left off and Robert is struggling to come to terms with the death of his father. After coming face-to-face with Jack of Diamonds – infamous thief and escapologist – one night in his father’s old workshop, Robert and Lily must solve the clues in the Moonlocket to get to the Blood Moon Diamond before Jack can and save Robert’s long lost mother in the process. Easy, eh?
If I were to describe the Cogheart world to myself, I wouldn’t expect to like it; Steampunk London with sentient clockwork robots, based in the past doesn’t really sound like my kind of thing to be honest. But there’s something about the way that Bunzl describes it that fills it with magic and whimsy rather than mechanics and engineering as you might imagine. Think classic adventure with lashings of code cracking and plenty of dashing around at the last minute like The Famous Five, but replace the dog with a haughty, wind -up fox and you’re pretty much there.
As implausible as that may sound, it doesn’t feel it when you’re reading. There are real-life people and references that grounds the narrative; Queen Victoria herself makes an appearance and good old Sherlock Holmes is still the most famous of detectives. London is recognisable, although I’ll grant you we don’t see a lot of Zeppelins.
It’s the lively characters, though, that really draw you in. I am desperate for a Malkin of my very own; I’m pretty sure that a loving, clockwork fox with a minor attitude problem would be a great addition to my household. Or maybe a life-size elephant for popping into town?
I have really grown to care for Robert with his quiet determination and Lily with her loud, stomping determination to prove herself capable. Both children are great role models for younger readers, giving inspirational insights into how to deal with the loss of a loved one, restrictive illnesses, and feeling left out.
Younger readers will also enjoy the secret codes used in Moonlocket. I’ll be honest, part of me wishes that I was still at school so that I could use the code the pass encrypted messages to my friend to liven up double Maths (I have instead been trying to convince my other half to participate in an ADVENTURE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE complete with coded list. No luck so far, but I haven’t given up on it yet).
‘Selena comes from Selene,’ Robert explained, ‘which is the Latin name for moon. If she owned a locket it would be a Moonlocket, don’t you think?’
There is only one tiny thing that slightly disappointed me in Moonlocket, and I know I’m being picky, but I found it really jarring. When Robert finds the Moonlocket, he is certain that it must belong to his mother. His reasoning is that his mother’s name derives from the Latin for Moon (see quote above). Now, it isn’t impossible that Robert would know this, it does seem like something that his father might have told him when talking about his mother BUT he doesn’t mention that. He announces it as if he’s fluent in Latin and it seemed so unrealistic that my brain couldn’t accept it. I came tumbling back into the real world and it took me a while to get back into the book.
I am willing to forgive Robert this slip towards the know-it-all thought because I loved the book and am looking forward to the next instalment in 2018. As such, I would like to take this opportunity to politely and humbly request MORE MECHANIMALS PLEASE!