Sarah's Stars

John Claude Bemis. The Nine Pound Hammer (The Clockwork Dark, Book I)
Random House Books $18.99 ISBN 978-0-375-85564-1 368 pg.
Reviewed By Victoria, Age 12

With little jewels of dew still sparking in the grass, the busy work of preparing for the medicine show began. Nel shouted instructions from behind the briarwood pipe clamped in his teeth. Place the stage there. Hoist the tent. Tie the curtain a little higher on the Ballyhoo. Put those crates of tonics up on the stage.

Soon all the supplies from the boxcar were unloaded. The timing was right. There wouldn't be anybody around the locked car.

Twelve-year-old Ray and his younger sister Sally are two very alone orphans that have lived a rough life in Manhattan, stealing to survive, while following the pull of Ray's father's lodestone. Once aboard Mister G. Octavius Grevol's dark, seemingly perfect train, Ray jumps off at the pull of the lodestone, leaving Sally behind with thirteen other orphans, under the protection of Miss Corey. Following the lodestone's pull, Ray starts his adventure; meeting many exciting people aboard the Ballyhoo, a magical sideshow train with many magical performers. Read The Nine Pound Hammer to find out just where and how this lonely orphan fits in.

Really, The Nine Pound Hammer is an extremely good read if you’re into the fantasy adventure genre. If not, this lengthy chapter book may not be your first choice. However, if you’re open to any genre, take a chance on this read. It's definitely a fast-paced book, but one where you’ll have to pay attention, not one you can read during commercials on TV. As it is fairly long, it is best tackled if you have a lot of extra time so you can really step into this tall tale. I think The Nine Pound Hammer is definitely suitable for any 10 to 14 year old reader.

All in all, I give The Nine Pound Hammer four and three-quarter-pound stars!

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