Timing the machine by Gary Crew

cover image

Ill. by Paul O'Sullivan. Harbour Publishing, 2016. ISBN 9781922134530
(Age: 9+) Recommended. Fantasy. Future. Science fiction. Time travel. When Enoch becomes lost in the museum, he is at a loss to even remember who he is, let alone why he is there, who his teacher is, and how he was separated from his class. He questions himself as he tries to find his way, stumbling over things in his path. Bleeding, he begins to even question his own humanity, as he continues to stagger on through the place. Mixed with time travel, H G Wells' The Time Machine which the class is studying, a museum full of strange offerings, Enoch's journey will intrigue all readers. They, like him, will struggle to find out where he is and why he is there. Sometimes there appears to be someone else in the room, sometimes his hands become automated, sometimes he climbs large staircases finding something at the top of the stairs that may unravel the mystery. All lead the reader on, wanting to know about the journey Enoch is taking. The mystical language, full of what if's and why's, never offering an answer, will delight younger readers, while O'Sullivan's illustrations will carry the reader into the story, offering clues and hints, about what is going on.
This is a marvellously intriguing book, with writing that charms and insinuates, complimented with illustrations that sometimes defy the imagination, but always take the reader further along into a fantasy world where time is immaterial and time travel an option.
I love the Escher style staircase, the hands that move with metallic parts, the soaring Gothic building, the rolls of film on every few pages that tell part of the story of Enoch looking for an answer. He doesn't get an answer and neither do we, but the journey is fascinating, and well worth the travel.
A sequel to The visions of Ichabod X, which was shortlisted for the Australian Book Designer's Award in 2016.
Fran Knight