Every once in awhile a book comes along that presents the reader with an amazing story; this is one of those books. Written in a classic literature style in which characters are fascinating, the setting hops from place to place and imagination soars, Dutcher has surpassed my wildest dreams of good old fashioned storytelling. There is a Circus Ringmaster, a Railroad Baron, a Bounty Hunter, a British Spy, a Dutch Alchemist, a middle east Sufi, and an Inventor, to name a few. All are brilliant in various ways, some are evil, but in Europe in 1895 all of them want to win. The prize is 50,000 dollars and of course, bragging rights.
The race has three parts: land, water and air. The rules are simple in that you must be invited to participate, you must transport on the ground during the land part, in the water during the water part and in the air during the air part. There are tokens the racers must retrieve along the race route. The invitation arrives via a chrysalis that contains the written invitation, one token and a key; the token and the key have the same image which is individualized for each participant. The tokens are usually part of a puzzle that has to be solved to get to them and there are even advantage tokens if you are lucky enough to get one.
Michael McGillicuddy is in his 20’s, an engineer by day and an inventor by night. He has a history with the race but is nonetheless surprised when he receives his invite. From that day on he prepares for the race; this includes leaving his job, his Mother and risking everything. I can not stress the depth of imagination it took to come up with the various modes of transportation, the astonishing characters, the adventures of the race and managing to keep the reader on the edge of their seat longing to find out who wins and how the story plays out. The reader is constantly trying to figure out who is an antagonist and who is the hero.
Don’t miss this fantastic summer read! It is a great family read out loud, young adult, adult story. I am holding my breath for the movie to come out but in the meantime I am loving what it did for my own imagination!