The Accidental Time Traveller, by Janis Mackay, is a simple, often fun, sometimes educational, sometimes slow story for younger readers.
Saul is a young boy from the present, in Great Britain. One day he meets a young girl who is quite different. Her name is Agatha. Agatha Black is from 1813 and is somehow (we never quite learn ‘how’) transported to the future. Knowing that no adult could possibly believe the truth – that Agatha is from the past – Saul hides Agatha until he can come up with a convincing lie and bring her in to the home. He involves his buddies, after careful consideration. Agatha teaches Saul what it was like to live in the past and in turn, Saul learns how much of what he takes for granted, is such a luxury to someone from her time. With thanks to Agatha’s lessons on life in 1813, Saul writes an essay about what it was like to live in the past, and of course his essay wins a prize.
There’s a fair amount to like in this book, especially for a young reader, but there might also be a little too much extraneous detail, moving the story too slowly to really keep a young reader’s attention. While I typically enjoy reading YA and Middle Grade books, and I liked the premise for this, it’s not the sort of book that I can recommend. Everything here was just a little too convenient and easy, and the pay-off at the end … wasn’t. I don’t want to give too much away (I get in trouble sometimes on Goodreads when I reveal too much in my reviews), but what should have been a nice summation and powerful ending really fell flat. Even if it was very real and written as though it might have been written by a middle schooler, I think the author would have done better to take the story and the characters up a notch. (I know this seems a little vague, but if you read the book, you’ll understand.)
This is a very middle-of-the-road book for me. The idea is really great and the characters are wonderful and identifiable. It should be a real knock-out of a book, but it just isn’t.
Looking for a good book? The Accidental Time-Traveller, by Janis Mackay, has a lot of promise and many things going for it, but it doesn’t quite become a book that can be easily recommended.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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The Accidental Time-Traveller
author: Janis Mackay
publisher: Floris Books
paperback, 240 pages