Goodreads: The Crooked Sixpence
Series: The Uncommoners #1
Published: January 2017
When Ivy and Seb’s grandmother falls and is rushed to the hospital, the two return to their home only to find police armed with toilet brushes trying to arrest them. The two go on the run and, in the process, stumble into the secret underground world of Lundinor where ordinary objects have quite uncommon uses. But an old evil is reemerging and Ivy and Seb will have to uncover their family’s past in order to defeat it.
I wanted to love The Crooked Sixpence because it sounds like just the type of quirky middle-grade adventure I would enjoy. Eleven-year-old Ivy and her fourteen-year-old brother Seb stumble into the secret city of Lundinor where people trade objects that have unusual uses. Yo-yos can be used as weapons, lemon juicers as lights, and belts as levitation devices. However, ultimately the book fell flat for me.
About the first 100 pages read like a series of info dumps, one after the other. First, the teenage boy Ivy and Seb team up with must explain the world of Lundinor and the idea of uncommon objects. Then Ivy conveniently walks past a store where a man is lecturing a group of children on some of the laws and traditions of Lundinor. And so it goes. And yet, even after 100 pages of this, I still felt a little disoriented and like I didn’t fully understand the rules of the world!
Furthermore, too much in the book relied on coincidence for me to be able to swallow the story. Time and again Ivy and her brother simply stumble into the people and places that will further plot. First, Ivy ends up on the doorstep of her grandmother’s old friend. Then they foolishly reveal their circumstances to a stranger and find out she used to work for their great-grandfather and can provide pertinent information. Then they conveniently find a place no one else could find for decades. Then, through sheer stupidity, Seb destroys property only to reveal objects that are the answer to a question no living person can answer. What are the odds for any of this, much less all of it?
Other problems made reading the book seem a bit of a chore. The plot is fairly predictable. Most will be able to identify one of the main villains upon their first appearance in the story. And the characters never really seem to come alive or to form meaningful relationships with each other, so it’s difficult to feel invested in them or their friendships. In the end, the part I enjoyed most were the illustrations, which are beautiful and quirky and make the book feel much more exciting than I thought it was. The last 50 pages or so finally picked up and were full of action. But I don’t know if 50 pages are enough to convince me to read the sequel. I’d rather just look at Mountford’s art portfolio.