Review Blog

May 10 2012

Twelve Minutes to Midnight by Christopher Edge

cover image

Nosy Crow, 2012. ISBN 978 0 85753 050 6.
(Age: 10-14) Highly recommended. The mystery begins in 'Bedlam', an insane asylum where at precisely twelves minutes to midnight the sleeping patients suddenly arise from their beds and in a catatonic state start to write furiously with whatever they can find, on any surface. When they awake the next morning they cannot remember anything of the experience.
The heroine of the story is 13 year old Penelope Treadwell, the editor and main writer of the tantalizing and sinister Penny Dreadful. As the time and setting of the novel is Victorian England, feisty Penny must disguise her role in the magazine by hiring an actor to play her non de plume, Montgomery Flinch. She accompanies him as his 'niece'. This gives Penny the opportunity to scrutinize the Bedlam mystery by assisting 'Montgomery Flinch' in his investigations, although brave and inquisitive Penny certainly struggles with the hired Flinch's cowardly behaviour. Penny has more support and help from her young friend Alfie.
This story keeps you on the edge of your seat. The mystery at the insane asylum, the mysterious and beautiful Lady Cambridge and her obsession with spiders, the inclusion of the most famous writers of Victorian times and Penny's natural inquisitiveness add to the drama. Clever twists and turns are used by the author to keep you turning the pages. The content of the mysterious writings is a big surprise.
The black, white and red cover is appealing and the forthcoming second novel echoes the same design features, so it is visually easy to tell it is a sequel.
I highly recommend this book to children aged 10 to 14 who like mystery, excitement and some gripping scary moments in their novels.
Jane Moore

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