- The Curse of the Romanovs
Sam Faulkner's widowed father is so unreliable that Sam lives with his grandparents, and now his father has disappeared—again. After twelve days, Sam returns to the antiquarian bookshop that serves as both his father's business and home to search for clues, and he discovers a mysterious stone statue with a circular hole at the top, which he fills with a coin he finds near it. Suddenly, fourteen-year-old Sam finds himself ricocheting through time, from the Middle Ages to Viking days, the battlefields of World War I France to the tombs in ancient Egypt. He finally bounces back home and realizes that his father is trapped in time; worse, he's a prisoner of the infamous Vlad the Impaler (Count Dracula). This French import has enough plot and historic detail in each destination to create distinctive moments without overwhelming the central story of Sam's struggle to find his father. The style is everyday colloquial with exclamatory touches, making this an accessible and quick-moving read. Although Sam exhibits a little too much self-possession at times, he is still believably a teen as he attempts to avoid a school bully, recall history lessons, and even sneak the use of a calculator in a different century. Time-travel fans will jump headlong with Sam into his big adventure, and they will be hoping for a sequel to finally resolve the mystery of his father's disappearance.