This is the sequel to Tomorrow’s Guardian, the first book in Richard Denning’s Hourglass Institute series, and what a sequel it is. Young Tom Oakley and his friends Septimus, Edward, Charlie, Mary, and Professor Septimus are back again protecting their world from those who seek to manipulate time for their own ends. In this instalment, the action revolves around finding lost pieces of the all-powerful Crown of Knossos, which, once reassembled, can be used to control all of history. Once again, Tom and Co. are up against their old enemies in Redfeld and Thielmann, but there are new—and more powerful—foes to contend with. With the action taking place both in the present day and ancient Alexandria, ancient Greece, and the during the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in 1851, the novel manages to impart some historical interest and light information to its readers, as well as entertainment.
Aimed at a young readership, the style is easy to read and the story moves at a breathtaking pace with many twists and turns. There is always tension and it is never a given that good will triumph over evil. Quite a bit of explanation about events in the previous book had to be entered into in order to understand the bigger picture, but this was handled brilliantly through Tom’s narrative, and it never felt like an information dump. It is a joy to see a self-published book so expertly and professionally written and edited. If I had any comment at all it was merely that the page layout was sometimes uneven, with the text on one page ending higher than on the next, but that is a minor issue. All in all, a good, fun read for young adults!