Alan Sunderland, The Incredible Powers of Montague Towers, Scholastic Australia, 1 March 2016, 240pp., $15.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9781760153649
We have a new superhero in the making in the unlikely shape of young Montague Towers. He is an orphan at the Home for Lost Children. Because he is now fifteen, Montague is left in charge when the rest of the children and the Sisters go to the seaside for a holiday.
All thoughts of a restful life disappear when the Cape of Justice comes into his life, asking him to deal with his pursuers using cryptic messages. The Cape of Justice is an ageing superhero who no longer gives the impression of any ability. He endows Montague with a new super power every day for the next six days. Each of these super powers only lasts the one day and Monty finds that he does not time his sleuthing well, running out of his day’s skill at midnight, with sometimes disastrous results. His nose twitches, and he sneezes heralding the next arrival: hypnotic power, invisibility, laser vision which has the capacity to cut through steel, flight, and finally super speed. Monty searches for the evil Lord Bentwordle who is trying to commit the crime of the century: the theft of the Warbley printing plates. Eventually, over five frustrating days when he frequently despairs of his new gifts, Montague out-wits Bentwordle. In doing so he discovers that he is in fact a superhero who has unleashed his innate skills.
This is a fun, fast paced quest combined with mystery. There are riddles to solve, an evil criminal to beat and elements of humour. The characters are stereotyped but fit the format well. Montague is really the only one who develops through the book. There are sure to be more in the series of Montague Powers as he works with his new-found skills, his long-lost uncle, Cape of Justice aka Bertram Towers and other members of FOSHCAP, the Federation of SuperHeroes, Crimefighters and Patrycooks. Recommended as a good read, though not great literature.