Wednesday 13 December 2017

Entering WARP: new must-read kids' series after Artemis

Warp Book 2: The Hangman's Revolution Eoin Colfer Puffin; tpbk, €14.99,368 pages Available with free P&P on www. or by calling 091 709 350

Eoin Colfer: Artemis Fowl
Eoin Colfer: Artemis Fowl

Sarah Webb

Ireland's Children's Laureate, Eoin Colfer, is a household name thanks to his bestselling Artemis Fowl series. With 20 million copies sold worldwide, the Wexford man is one of the most popular children's writers around.

In the past few years, this hard-working author has also penned the critically acclaimed historical fantasy Airman, an instalment in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series called And Another Thing, and two hard-boiled crime novels for adults, Plugged and Screwed. His new series for children, WARP, is also gaining traction: book one, The Reluctant Assassin was published last year and book two, The Hangman's Revolution, has just come out.

Described as a "thrilling, steam-punk, time-travel, adrenaline-fuelled adventure series, it's all that and more. The book opens with a recap, explaining Charles Smart's time tunnel to Victorian London and the FBI's WARP – Witness Anonymous Relocation Programme – plan "to stash federal witnesses in the past".

The reader is then whizzed to present-day London where Blessed Colonel Box has transformed the country into a police state. He enforces his rule with his Boxite army and his 'Thundercats', sisters Lunka Witmeyer and Clover Vallicose, nun-like women warriors who worship Box as their god.

Native American teen Chevron Savanois is living in this dystopian world, with all knowledge of her former life as a time-travelling FBI agent forgotten. But her memory returns and she is spat back into 1899 where she finds her old friend from book one, street urchin, Riley, who is now working as a magician. The pair must stop Colonel Box's rule in the present by altering what happens in the past. To overcome Box, Chevie and Riley team up with Victorian crime lord, Otto Malarky. Otto first appeared in Airman, and there are many nods to this former book in the text. The goodies and baddies battle, ending in a shootout in London's sewers. No one writes an action scene like Colfer, and these final chapters are terrific. The book is fast, furious and funny, and there's an Irish butler, Figary, who is full of 'so I dos' and other Irish-isms.

Colfer's writing is muscular and he clearly had a ball writing this clever examination of the consequences of time travel. Fans of Oisin McGann, Scott Westerfeld and Philip Reeve will love it.

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