I was kinda worried that I wouldn’t be able to get this review out on time this month – considering that this week has been really busy for me. But, I preserved and, as promised to my author, I have the review here ready to go.
Today’s book I thought was gonna be a nice light hearted children’s book – but I was amazed at how dark it was in places. But not so dark that I don’t think others couldn’t enjoy it. In fact, it had a very interesting concept.
So today, we take a trip back in time to WWII Kent and follow Ralf and the Turnarounders as they fight to protect the world from a great evil. So let’s delve into The Turnarounders and the Arbuckle Rescue by Lou Heneghan.
About the author
Lou Heneghan was born a long time ago in a very small house on the edge of a deep, shadow-filled forest.
Now living in a ramshackle building on the edge of London, Lou's front windows look out over shimmering spires and distant city towers. To the back of the house is a footpath that winds deep into the woods. At dusk, Lou often follows it into the promise-filled darkness of the trees.
Lou nods at black cats, salutes magpies and never, ever, walks under ladders.
Links are below:
You can also see a trailer for the book at http://www.theturnarounders.com/#!trailer/c1pz
There are two covers for this book, one with a more darker, adult look (left) and a more child friendly look (right). Both work well and capture both the upbeat and dark nature of the story, but if I had to choose I’d choose the one on the left myself. However both work well.
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Ever felt you knew what was about to happen?
Ever had a strange feeling that you've done something before?
Ralf Osborne just wants to be a normal boy but, as his twelfth birthday approaches, he starts to recognise people he’s never met and know things he can’t possibly know. He also suspects that the mysterious hooded man he keeps seeing is following him.
Why? Because Ralf Osborne is far from normal. He has lived before.
Ralf and his friends are Turnarounders. They have power. And a long, long time ago, they made a solemn vow to help if ever they were needed.
Soon the Turnarounders are plunged back in time to the start of the Second World War. At first, they are only concerned with getting back home, but then they uncover a plot that could alter the course of history.
It's time for the Turnarounders to keep their promise…
What I liked
With the group consisting mostly of kids, it’s clear that the writer is aiming this at the younger market – but don’t be fooled into thinking this is a standard children’s story. It has a dark subtext and some “nightmare fuel” places in it – especially with the main villain. I don’t really want to spoil anything about the plot, but let me just tell you – the scene in which you meet him is straight outta Lovercraftian horror!
The Turnarounders are an interesting bunch of characters, ranging from brainacs to tough, streetwise kids, so you get a good mix of characters and something for everyone. For me, nothing is more annoying that having a team where everyone has basically the same traits, so it was refreshing to have a group where they all had difference personalities. Ralf, of course, is the main protagonist, but he’s not the key problem solver – everyone plays their part in this story.
So the plot basically revolves around children that are sent back to a Kent village during WWII to stop an evil force from taking place – and no, it’s not the Nazi’s this time around. Here’s the twist – they all have special powers (ala Harry Potter) and they have lived before. Apparently a long time ago they made a promise to stop some evil dude from coming back and now he’s here – or something like that.
Actually, the plot isn’t as complicated as I’m making it out to be above. The story is very easy to follow and has a great balance between humour and action. I quite liked the character of Alfie with his modern expressions in WWII England – that was funny. There are also a lot of puzzles for the Turnarounders to solve so that adds a real sense of mystery to the plot. The story also has some genuine twists that shocked me on occasion. Again, I don’t want to say too much, but the story did keep me hooked the whole way through. I felt it was the right balance of action, story and mystery.
I mentioned it having some dark moments in it as well. Bearing in mind this is set during the Great War, it doesn’t skimp over the horror and fear that was in the country at the time – think Blackadder Goes Forth. The horror is toned down a little as this is a young persons story, but it certainly brings awareness to the plight of the country. On the whole, the dark elements are justified and still makes this books suitable for younger readers.
What I didn’t like
To be honest, there wasn’t a lot about this book I DIDN’T like. In fact, for the first time since doing these reviews – I’m actually struggling to think of any negative points.
I suppose if I had to pick something, though this would only be a nitpick, it’s that one of the puzzles the Turnarounders had to solve did have me shouting “Oh come on! Even Adam West couldn’t put that together!” But then, stories don’t have to be realistic.
Pros: (Turnaround – every now and then I get a little bit closer)
- Young protagonists make this suitable for younger readers.
- Perfect mix of humour, action and mystery.
- Dark when it needs to be, but not too dark.
- Great plot and twists.
Cons: (If only I could turn back time)
With a mix of action, humour, mystery and great storytelling, The Turnarounders andd the Arbuckle Rescue is one book that is guaranteed to capture the imaginations of child and adult alike. Move over, Potter – the Turnarounders are here to claim their throne!
FINAL SCORE: 5/5