Three thumbs up for this Count-of-Monte-Cristo-style tale of an adventurous inventor with a heroic streak (yes, I realize I don’t have three thumbs, but that’s how much I liked it people!). This is a must-read for males, females, adults, children, and anyone I missed in the cracks of those classifications.
The book details the life of Conor Broekhart who studies the science of flight right around the time the Wright brothers are scheming in America. Conor’s dream is to work with his dashing tutor and his royal family friend (the king of some small islands off the British Coast) to create the first self-propelled flying machine. But then Conor hears/sees too much as he rubs shoulders with royal doings and ends up struggling to survive as a prisoner working in a deep and dangerous diamond mine. A few years go by, and we see how the now-late-adolescent plans daring escapes, rescues, and dramatic reunions with his childhood dreams.
My one complaint is the uncharacteristic amount of loose ends that Colfer has left within the story. Perhaps he is planning a sequel to answer some of my questions? What happens to the plans that Conor engraved in his jail cell? Did the evil Bonvilain really die? While we do have a few loose ends, all the major conflicts are resolved though, so I guess I really can’t complain.
The characters (with a slight amount of exception) are well-developed, the plot moves quickly and compellingly, and the story weaves its own magic, though there are plot elements that definitely remind one of Alexandre Dumas’ timeless tale. The book is chalk-full of heroic rescue, tragic happenstance, and a particular obsession with flying. An excellent Beehive Nominee!