I first saw this cover on author Shannon Whitney Messenger's blog and hoped I'd win her Middle-Grade-Monday ARC giveaway and Viola! Where do those windy stairs lead? What are all those unusual things lining the walls? A Museum for Thieves? Ingriguing!
It's rare to find a middle grade book written about young children overcoming dystopian societies. What I loved most about this book is that it features both boy and girl characters as strong, important individuals that hold each other up when faced with adversity. Even though the main character is a girl, the boy character is not far behind in importance and heroism.
Can you imagine being leashed to your parents any time you leave the house? Or can you imagine walking up a flight of stairs that eventually lead you to and underground city with portals to other times and places?
I loved how Lian Tanner connects you to the story by including the story of Broo and the children's curiousity and love for the dog. The bonding scene where Goldie and Toad spit get into a mud-slinging fight was fabulous. I found that the best part of the story was how the children went from being something to control, to deliverers. Their abilities were apparent to an adult character before their final act of heroism.
This was a great adventure, far surpassing many middle-grade works. I only had a problem with the names in the book: brizzlehound, Sinew, Broo,Olga Ciavolga,and Goldie. They were like stumbling blocks in the reading for me. I did love the name Toad-Spit and how he got it. It doesn't mean that middle-grade readers won't enjoy the names, though."No!" said Ma. "It's much too dangerous!""She's right. I forbid it!" shouted the Protector.Sinew laughed and whacked the Protector on the back in a friendly fashion. "forbid it all you like! I swear they'll go anyway, the minute you take your eyes off them! And besides, we need them. They're quick and they're clever. We won't get the area cleared without them."
The epilogue was fantastic as well and had me laughing out loud. It was a fun surprise reading about what became of the two figures that were in the glass dome of the Great Hall during the flood.
For a middle-grade adventure I give this book ***** 5 stars!