projected publication date: January 2017
The Uncommoners: The Crooked Sixpence is a fantasy-adventure, the first in a projected series, intended for children 8-12 years-old. In this story, Ivy Sparrow and her brother Seb find themselves in a strange adventure after their grandmother has an accident. While she is in the hospital, her home is ransacked and two very odd policemen chase them with a horse-drawn hearse. Soon they find themselves in an underground city, Lundinor, where ordinary objects do unusual things and the dead walk the streets with the living. They become immersed in a life or death mystery as they try to unravel their grandmother's forgotten past.
This is an enjoyable book, with a feisty heroine and an interesting plot. The plot is just convoluted enough to keep a middle grade reader engaged and guessing, without being difficult to follow It is faced paced and should hold the attention of the appropriate aged group.. Bell's descriptions of Ludinor and the explanations of that world are well-written and, while the characters aren't fully fleshed out, they are appealing.
The plot of the Crooked Sixpence relies a great deal on coincidence, and was therefore not believable to this adult reader. I don't know that it would be a problem for the intended audience, though.
There were also several things that were reminiscent of other popular fantasy series, but I can't really hold that against Bell. The very nature of fantasy is full of common tropes; it's impossible for a fantasy writer to be completely original.
Despite it's length (over 300 pages), I think this book is quite suitable for--and should be enjoyable for--the older end of the intended audience.
(I was given this ARC by the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review.)