Elsetime by Eve McDonnell

Elsetime is a time travelling story that will suck you in. It is set in both 1864 and 1928, with a backdrop of the danger and loss of life possibilities of the Great Flood of London on 6th January 1928.

Needle is a creative mudlark who finds treasure and makes items from them for his mother to sell. He can “see” the history of the items, and their owners, when he holds them. His father has also mysteriously disappeared.

Glory is a 12 year old orphan, with only one hand, who pretends to be older to get work making fine items for the mean Mrs Quick, in Frippery & Fandangle Emporium, to help her sister pay the rent and buy food. Unfortunately they lack finesse and fall apart.

Neither know of the other’s existence (although they both know a helpful crow called Magpie/Dust) until Needle finds treasure that, being from the future, makes his hand burn. This leads him to discover a hag stone through which he finds he travels through time to a London that is both familiar but different.

Needle and Glory end up working together, thanks to the crow engineering their meeting, to try to save the people who they think will perish in the flood. This is difficult as no one seems ready or willing to listen to their wondrous tale.

We are taken on a journey with Needle and Glory through time as well as the development of their friendship, which is not without its misunderstandings, to a high octane conclusion on the night of the flood. A twist in the tail left me with lots to ponder once the reading was done.

I love endpapers in picture books and hardbacks. They are rarely found in paperbacks so it was a lovely surprise to find the crow illustrations by Holly Ovendon inside the cover. Holly’s cover and illustrations throughout the book are a joy.

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