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The Ship of Doom by M A Bennett - Review

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

I didn't know that M A Bennett, who I love and have reviewed extensively here, had written any middle grade books until I was talking to my librarian friend Lucinda about M A Bennett's older books and she mentioned the middle grade ones. I put them on my wishlist and then when my sister-in-law asked what I would like for Christmas my partner sent her my list and she chose The Ship of Doom and The Mummy's Curse for me. I was really eager to get to both, so started this in March. I hadn't looked too closely at the front of the book, meaning that I didn't at first see the Titanic, hah. What an idiot! 

So, the year is 1894 and Luna is living with her aunt, Grace. Her dear Papa has disappeared and Luna assumes he is dead, but Grace tells her that he is 'on another plane'. Grace's house is full of butterflies, pinned and mounted on the walls, which freaks Luna out somewhat. Then one day, Luna is invited to the Greenwich Observatory by Grace, to attend a meeting of her club, The Butterfly Club. There, Luna meets a young Prussian boy called Konstantin. He has been sick for his whole life, but now has a clockwork heart ticking inside his chest. As everyone in the room is chatting and waiting, Aidan and his dad turn up in a time machine. It can connect on like a phone call to someone who is living in 1969, and it can take them to the future. The Butterfly Club want the three kids (they're twelve) to go to 1912 and get Guglielmo Marconi's radio to bring back to the past so the Club can win a prize for innovative inventions. 

The three set off for Southampton docks, but instead they find themselves on board Titanic as it sets sails on its ill fated voyage. The three must try to find Marconi's radio, and have to disguise themselves in order to do it. Aidan is a navvy by trade so he pretends to be a stoker. Konstantin steals the uniform of an officer and Luna wangles her way into first class. They have escapades along the way, and learn some hard truths about time travel and the Butterfly Effect. 

It's a very cute and fun book. I liked how it deal with time travel. I liked how a younger reader who doesn't know what actually happened to Titanic would have seen it unfurl. I do know a lot about Titanic, but I learnt some new things too, which I liked. I loved Luna and Konstantin and Aidan, and some of the things they had each been through and went through in the book. It's really clever and is a really good middle grade novel. It won't be long before I read the second one in the series! I'm giving this four out of five. 

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