Published February 7, 2023
About The Architect
There’s a golden rule in Phantom City: “No one about when the Zeppelin is out.” But one night, twelve-year-old Charlie Crane comes face-to-face with the Zeppelin, and instead of finding trouble, she is awakened.
Determined to find the truth in a city plagued with lies, Charlie, along with a quirky band of unlikely heroes, works to free the people of Phantom City from the clutches of a shadowy, evil villain. Helped by a mysterious Architect who only communicates over radio and telephone, Charlie wrestles with two big questions: Can she trust a guide she can’t see? And is the truth actually worth the trouble?
Filled with sinister schemes, bumbling superheroes, unexpected friendships, and plenty of humor and plot twists, THE ARCHITECT keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Boys and girls alike will be fascinated by the unique world of Phantom City, with its steampunk and Gotham City-type elements and will quickly find themselves cheering for our heroes in their fight against evil.
I thought at first (from the cover) that this was a young adult dystopian novel, so I was a little surprised when I started reading and learned it’s middle grade. The cover is so dark, I think I just assumed it was young adult? At any rate, it’s definitely middle grade! Ha.
I really liked the Gotham City feel the story has with its bizarre hero/villain types and strange happenings. The point of view is mainly split between two characters: Charlie, an orphan girl living on the street who doesn’t buy into the glam and glory surrounding the city’s “superheroes”, and Sneed, a boy responsible to create special effects for the heroes as they act out daring rescues in front of their adoring fans.
The story has a quirky, silly sense of humor and a playful tone in the vein of Andrew Peterson’s ON THE EDGE OF THE DARK SEA OF DARKNESS. I enjoyed that playfulness and the way that Charlie, who was a loner at the start of the story, was able to build a community around herself full of people she could depend on. I really liked that, too.
If you’re curious about the author’s journey to writing this book, he has an interesting blog post about it on his website.
Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.
Few character descriptions or details. I’m not sure of the race of the characters.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
The children receive instructions from an “Architect” who has a blueprint for the way the world should be, an oblique allegorical reference to God and the Bible. The story never overtly states this, though.
Situations of peril. Bad guys tie up characters and kidnap them, at one point threatening to have them killed. A villain kidnaps people and forces them to work for him. At one point it appears a character has died from a fall.
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