I’ve unexpectedly found myself with a spare 5 mins and so I thought that I’d quickly tell you about a new sci-fi mystery novella published earlier this month.

The Starlight Watchmaker tells the story of an android, Hugo, who was abandoned at an elite academy, but who luckily managed to establish himself as a watchmaker and repairer for wealthy students. After an arrogant duke, Dorian, comes knocking at his door for help with his broken time-travel watch, it becomes apparent that there is a potential terrorist threat looming. Hugo and Dorian find themselves working together, overcoming their differences to track down the culprit before the academy is placed in danger.

As you might expect being published by Barrington Stoke, the book has a ‘super-readable’ format and a dyslexia-friendly layout, typeface and paper stock. Plus, while it has a teen interest age, it has been edited to a reading age of 8. It’s such an imaginative story and very different from anything I’ve read recently. The backdrop is one of an unequal society, where the extremes of privilege and disadvantage are starkly highlighted, and while the threads of a class-based system, homelessness and unemployment create lots of opportunities for discussion, they compliment the storyline rather than dominate it. It could thus be enjoyed by a younger audience too (I’d say around 9+). I think the book would work on 2 levels: in the classroom as a teaching aid, where the themes could be further explored; or simply enjoyed by individual readers (or shared) as an innovative mystery. It should definitely appeal to a broader audience than just sci-fi fans and, as always with Barrington Stoke books, it is particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers. Certainly one to look out for over the holidays…

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The Starlight Watchmaker:

Author: Lauren James
Cover Art: Helen Crawford White
Publisher: Barrington Stoke Ltd
ISBN: 9781781128954
Paperback: 128 Pages

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