Colt Humboldt and the Close of Death
The first in a projected series for middle schoolers features twelve-year-old Colt Humboldt whose father has accepted a job at the Edinburgh zoo. Colt is not happy about leaving Dallas and his friends, but he has no idea of the friendships and adventures that await him in Scotland.
Colt seems a pretty ordinary young man. He whines a bit about the move away from his friends, but that is completely understandable. He considers himself "medium" -- nothing outstanding in any way. Circumstances, however, will make significant changes in his medium life, when two children stumble from his wardrobe. Alesone and Peter, have just escaped soldiers in 1645, and now find themselves in Colt's twenty-first century.
I liked the kids and the mythology and folklore. I liked the information about Mary King's Close (a close is like an alley or narrow street off the Royal Mile in Edinburgh).
Overall, the book is an exciting adventure with lots of historic details thrown in. I do feel that the author tried to throw in too much at once and sort of skimmed the explanations-- especially with the inclusion of so many of the creatures of legend and folklore: the Brown Man of the Muirs, Redcaps, Shellycoats, Kelpies, Selkies, Wulvers, Brownies, Cu Sith, Cait Sith, Nuckelavees, Puddlefoots, and more. Also thrown into the mix: a little Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Burns.
It is a long book, which is great, but perhaps some editing would have kept the script a little tighter.
There were a few things I questioned--like the way Alesone, a bright girl, failed to really question the way the city and its people had changed over the course of 400 years, but I enjoyed the book and will watch for the next in the series.
I'd love to know what the intended audience for this book think about it.
Read in February.
Middle Grade/Fantasy/Adventure. Feb. 2014. Print version: 456 pages.