Gideon the Cutpurse, by Linda Buckley-Archer, is a time-travel story with elements of both fantasy/science fiction and historical fiction. Peter Schock and Kate Dyer are at her father’s lab, when an accident with an anti-gravity machine throws them back in time to 1763. The first person that they meet in that time is the Tar Man, a horrifying villian who steals the antigravity machine, and with it, any hope that they can return home. The children are helped by Gideon Seymour, cutpurse and gentleman, who is himself hiding from the Tar Man.
The children travel with Gideon, first to the home of a family that has employed Gideon, then to London with Gideon and members of the family. Along the way they have many adventures, including encounters with highwaymen, the Tar Man, and King George III himself. Meanwhile, back at home, there is a massive search for the children, while Kate’s father and other scientists try to find a way to bring them back home.
Gideon the Cutpurse is quite an enjoyable story, with plenty of adventure. The characters are interesting and complex, both heroes and villans. Gideon himself is a fascinating character, although perhaps a bit too good to be true. The story drags a bit in the beginning, and I thought it took the children an inordinately long time to figure out that they were in the past, but once the story gets going it’s very exciting. It also gives an interesting glimpse into life in 18th century England. I particularly found the encounter with King George III interesting, because we Americans are used to thinking of him as a villian himself. But in this book he was a pleasant and likeable character. The book ends with a cliffhanger that’ll leave you impatient for the next book!
I listened to the audio version of Gideon the Cutpurse (Unabridged) from audible.com, and it was very well done.