cover image Monstrous Devices

Monstrous Devices

Damien Love. Viking, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-451-47858-0

In an English suburb, 12-year-old Alex collects toy robots and tries to avoid relentless bullying at school. After his grandfather sends him an old tin robot with a note that says “this one is special,” mysterious and frightening things begin to happen. Soon, Alex is swept along in his grandfather’s wake, first to Paris and then to Prague, pursued by dangerous people and the animated robots they are capable of powering. Alex’s grandfather has ebullient charm, and his humorous patter leavens a well-crafted adventure that’s filled with desperate chases, narrow escapes, fight scenes, and twists. Over the course of the escapade, Alex struggles with doubts about his grandfather’s remarkable—but perhaps less-than-reputable—past, his own possible connection to their pursuers, and the allure of power and the newfound autonomy it offers. Drawing on and modernizing stories of golems, debut author Love cleverly interweaves them with the history of robots and leaves some intriguing mysteries unresolved, hinting at further adventures to come. Ages 8–12. Agent: Catherine Drayton, InkWell Management. (Oct.)