Brimstone by Kelly Gardiner

cover image

The Fire Watcher Chronicles book 1. Scholastic, 2018. ISBN 9781742994277
(Age: 9+) Highly recommended. Themes: Time travel, London Blitz, Great Fire of London. It is 1940 and Christopher Larkham is in the middle of the London Blitz. Seeking shelter from the bombs, he uncovers a ring with a phoenix symbol on it and finds himself transported back to 1666, the time of the Great Fire of London. Here he faces Brother Blowbladder who believe that London should burn because of its sin.
Brimstone is an exciting book and Christopher is a most engaging character. In London in 1940 he is a courageous firewatcher, managing to help identify where the bombs will be dropped and helping to put out spot fires with his mother who is a fire warden. In 1666 he manages to persuade the family who believe that he is Kit, their dead son and brother, to take their belongings and flee the advancing fire. He also bravely faces Brother Blowbladder and his cohort in the mysterious Righteous Temple and with the assistance of Master Merriman and Molly he manages to help save many lives.
Gardiner has brought together many strands, time travel, history and action, all rolled into one exciting adventure that will prove fascinating for the reader. Time travel is deftly handled as Christopher goes back and forth from 20th century London to 17th century London. The descriptions of both the fires caused by the bombs and those in the Great Fire of London are vividly and bring to life both events - readers will learn much about the history of both periods, while revelling in a well told adventure story. Gardiner has included an author's note about World War Two and the blitz and the Great Fire of London and a list of books that readers interested in the history could pursue.
Fans of both fantasy and historical fiction will really enjoy Brimstone and are sure to pick up the next two books in the series, Phoenix and Vigil, both coming in 2019.
Pat Pledger