Children's fiction, Historical fiction

The Incredible Talking Machine by Jenni Spangler

Illustrator: Chris Mould 

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I picked up a gothic/historical children’s book by this author before. Although I had not enjoyed it completely, it intrigued me. This was enough for me to try out this one when I saw it.
I read a few scattered books aimed at a younger audience during any given year, and I try to keep in mind the target audience when I react to it. In this case, such forethought was not required. Although the primary characters of the narrative are children, and the plotline is quite straightforward, it was highly enjoyable.
As an adult, I appreciated the well rounded lead characters, especially Tig. She is a hard-working employee who loves her job. She finds herself fascinated with two things, the resident ghost of the theatre and the newly arrived talking automaton. She unearths shady doings to add to her troubles.
The whole narrative shows the varying degrees that characters can be ‘good’. They are not all good in the same way, which adds flavour to it. The story is short and action-packed. I have a recently turned-nine-year-old who would be able to read the whole thing in one sitting. The way the revelations unfold, it is bound to keep a child’s attention at all times – all the way through to the end. With the Halloween theme of this month (if you are into that sort of thing), this would be a worthy addition to a bookshelf. Also, this is historical fiction and provides enough background for a younger audience to be curious about other ‘strange’ behaviour of olden day England.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.

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