Tim Hehir, Julius & the Soulcatcher (The Watchmaker Novels #2), Text Publishing, 30 May 2016, 330pp., $19.99 (pbk.), ISBN 9781925240177
Julius Higgins lives with his Grandfather, a seller of rare and difficult to find books. Julius is reacquainted with Emily when she sells his Grandfather the stolen diary of Charles Darwin’s visit to Brazil. On a visit to Kew gardens she overhears an argument between Darwin and another man, Tock, after which she pickpockets Darwin’s diary. Tock, accompanied by two criminal helpers, track Emily and the diary to Higgins’ bookshop. They leave an orchid as a parting gift after taking the diary. It is no ordinary orchid, it is a soul-eating orchid and there are more. Higgins visits Flynn the next day. Emily’s guardian Flynn is not happy about her petty crime, however he recognises the need to investigate further as there is a hint that the Watchmakers may be involved. Their investigations lead to an intricate network of crime and Emily and Julius find themselves traveling back in time to Brazil when Darwin was there, and other times and universes in order to solve the mysteries.
This is a captivating story set in England in the 1800s. Character development is strong and readers will get to know them well. There are twists in the narrative that are not expected, keeping the reader alert and wanting to read more. I have not read the first book in this series but I was not left feeling like I had missed any background. This is a stand alone read for fans of Victorian mystery with time travel and steampunk influence, and a must for fans of the first book Julius and the Watchmaker. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Liz Derouet