Monstrous devices by Damien Love

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Rock the Boat, 2020. ISBN: 9781786077523. 338pp.
(Age: 10-14) Recommended. There is mystery and plenty of action in this story with 12 year old Alex as the central character. He lives with his mother in London, is regularly bullied by fellow student Kenzie and life isn't particularly remarkable until the arrival of a package from his Grandfather in Europe. It contains an old tin wind-up robot, which Alex suspects has special powers over him. His Grandfather returns as a group of villains turn up who are desperate to get their hands on the tin robot, which Alex keeps in his care. All manner of robots, including flying ones and human size robots called life-sizers pursue and attack Alex and his Grandfather. Their search for help takes them to France and then Poland. The toy robot is revealed to be valuable and it has a connection to Golem, a clay creature which has been lying dormant and will be unleashed for evil purposes by the villains. Alex has to learn to trust his Grandfather no matter that he doesn't tell Alex the whole story. Alex believes two of the villains are his relatives, which is never resolved and potentially provides a segue into a second book in the series.
Monstrous devices is nail-biting escapism and with such visual action you can imagine it as a film. There is a hint of the old world of toy shops and Dickensian characters. The Grandfather carries a Gladstone bag and uses his cane like a weapon. He says things like "old boy" when talking to Alex. It will appeal to readers of the Artemis Fowl or Alex Rider series with a similar smart, young male hero, bad guys and its gadgetry. Its main theme is good versus evil but Alex must confront his own internal demons and his Grandfather is also no angel. There is some consideration of robots and AI being used for evil purposes, which is of course a contemporary dilemma. This is a fairly long read which will suit a more confident reader.
Jo Marshall