John is fourteen years old. He lives with his parents and older sister in a relatively affluent part of London. John’s father is typically considered to be a gentleman, for he works as a clerk at the Naval Offices drawing wages of about 100 pounds a year. His father’s good paying job allows John to attend Muldspoon’s Militantly Motivated Academy.
But one day John’s father makes a startling announcement: “By the end of this week, there’s a possibility that I shall be sent to prison.”
The next day when John comes home from school, he finds the constables hauling off his family’s belongings. John’s father is in debt, and will be sent to debtors prison unless he can raise 300 pounds by the end of the week.
In 1849 this staggering amount is more than three years pay for middle class citizens such as John and his family. The question is: How did John’s father manage to accumulate such a huge debt? And who is the mysterious O’Doul to whom John’s father owes the money?
All John can get from his father is that he doesn’t owe that man any money. John isn’t sure what to think. As he begins searching for answers he discovers inspectors from Scotland Yard, mysterious strangers, and hidden plots that he had never noticed before.
But worst of all, John discovers that his father has secrets that he has kept from John and the rest of the family. Now John may be the only one who can pull his family out of a precarious situation that could mean their complete downfall.
Once again Avi has done a superb job in creating a historical fiction novel. Just like his earlier “Beyond the Western Sea” series, “The Traitor’s Gate” is alive with detail and rich characters. The only thing that is certain in this book is that surprises are in store around every page.
“The Traitor’s Gate” is enlivened by beautiful line drawings by Karina Raude. These illustrations look like period woodcut images, and add a lot to the historical air of the plot. As Avi himself says, “The Traitor’s Gate” is a tribute to Charles Dickens. The story feels remarkably similar to many of Charles Dickens’ books, from some of the characters, to the vivid depictions of London in all its dirty, bustling splendor.
I would definitely recommend “The Traitor’s Gate,” by Avi to all young readers who enjoy historical fiction.
Inkweaver Book Rating: