Dream Thief: An Extraordinary Horatio Lyle Mystery
Fourth book in the successful Horatio Lyle series which began with The Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle in 2006 and continued with The Obsidian Dagger and The Doomsday Machine. In the first book inventor and scientist Horatio Lyle meets up with two important characters who are to be his companions in further adventures: Tess, a waif-like child from the streets of East London and expert pickpocket, and secondly, Thomas Eldwick, the young teenage son of one of the most noble families in the country, usually referred to by Tess as the “Bigwig”. Another important character is Horatio’s mother, widow of the late Harry Lyle, inventor, who has a trick or two up her sleeve.
The setting of the fourth book is London, 1865; Horatio and his team have been combating the Tsequin, an otherworldly group of individuals, with emerald-green eyes, mostly set on evil intent. And with an affinity for all things organic but an intense aversion for anything made of iron. In The Dream Thief, the adventurers have to find one of the Tsequin, Greybags, who has mutated into something even more evil and who is infiltrating the community of London’s poorest children. He is administering a strong, and seemingly irreversible, narcotic which sends them into an eternal sleep. One of the central features of The Dream Thief is Mr Majestic’s Marvellous Electric Circus, which attracts the children like a magnet, and its array of unusual inhabitants. But here, the team finds that Greybags is also poisoning the adults.
The only quibble that I would have with this book is with the stream-of-consciousness, or free indirect narrative episodes, which are intended to highlight the hallucinatory, dream-like quality of the scene, but can be rather distracting. Altogether an enjoyable romp, and addition to the series, for children 8-12.