After his experiences with travelling to 1645 Edinburgh, Tom Afflick is keen to return to the past and visit his friends on Mary King's Close. However, after a return journey to the Close, he is disappointed to find that he is not transported back for a second time. However, a brand new adventure is about to start when he visits the National Museum of Scotland and discovers a display of tiny coffins. After an argument with his stepfather leads to him being pushed into a display cabinet, Tom finds himself being transported back in time once again, but this time to the year 1828, where the city is being tormented by people going missing. Tom must find out what is happening to the people, and find out the mystery behind the tiny coffins.
I thought this was a brilliant sequel to 'Crow Boy' and loved the brand new storyline that came with it. The series focuses on real life historical events from Edinburgh, and as someone who has never visited the city and has little knowledge of it's history, I always enjoy learning about the history that these books are based on. 'Seventeen Coffins' deals with the Burke and Hare murders, which consisted of sixteen murders committed by William Burke and William Hare. Along with a man who had died from natural causes, Burke and Hare sold the corpses to an anatomy class.
I loved the new characters in this novel, especially Jamie, an eighteen year old who Tom suspects has Asperger Syndrome. Jamie was a sweet and kind character who I instantly loved and felt sorry for, as the majority of people who lived in the city thought he was dumb. As many mental conditions would not have been discovered at the time, I found it interesting how Jamie's peers dealt with him, and how no one apart from Tom truly understood him. Like many people with Asperger syndrome, Jamie was extremely intelligent, but had some problems with communicating with others along with allowing himself to be bullied. I feel as if there aren't many positive portrayals of characters with mental disabilities in children’s and YA novels, and Jamie was a breath of fresh air in that respect.
Although I loved the main storyline, I was less keen on Tom's travelling between times and being chased by his previous tormentor, William McSweeney. I thought the ending to 'Crow Boy' was exciting and loved the final showdown between Tom and McSweeney, and felt that bringing him back in 'Seventeen Coffins' was unneeded, as Burke and Hare were brilliant villains, and I felt that the book would have felt less crowded without the McSweeney story line.
Although I preferred 'Crow Boy', I still think 'Seventeen Coffins' is a strong sequel, and is definitely a page turner. I usually give myself around a week to read each book, but I couldn't put 'Seventeen Coffins' down and managed to finish it in two days. I definitely recommend this book for fantasy and Sci-Fi lovers of all ages.
Seventeen Coffins is available to purchase HERE
Make sure to check out the first book in the series, Crow Boy
Be sure to check out the brand new sequel, One For Sorrow, which is out now!