When I saw the title for this book, I knew I had to read it. You see, one of many titles I brainstormed for my earlier manuscript was THE BILLIONAIRE’S CURSE. It would have fit perfectly in many ways, but alas, it was already taken by Richard Newsome.
I haven’t covered much middle grade adventure for #MMGM, so it’s about time–especially since that’s a genre I’ve written in the past. So, here’s the description for THE BILLIONAIRE’S CURSE:
Gerald Wilkins never considered himself a particularly exceptional thirteen-year-old. But that was before he inherited twenty billion pounds, a Caribbean island, a yacht, and three estates from a great-aunt he never knew. With this fortune, however, comes a letter. One from his great-aunt Geraldine. One that tells Gerald that she was murdered, and that it’s up to him to find out why.
Along with his friends Ruby and Sam, Gerald embarks on a journey that will lead him from the British Museum to dodgy social clubs for the disgustingly rich to mansions in the English countryside to secret places far underground. Who was Geraldine Archer? And what secrets was she hiding? Unless Gerald, Sam, and Ruby can find out before the killer does, they may be next.
Here are five things I loved:
1. The billions – Seriously, what kid wouldn’t love to inherit billions of dollars and a country estate? Sure, it comes with parents who desert Gerald to go visit his Caribbean island, plus there’s that whole people trying to kill him thing … Ok, maybe you wouldn’t want that, but it sure is fun to read!
2. The adventure – Gerald and his friends jump from one life-threatening debacle to another. Sometimes they get out through a convenient plot twist, but I didn’t care because it was so much fun. And the book doesn’t take itself too seriously. Take this passage:
“Ruby looked at Gerald. ‘You want to look for a hidden passage behind a fireplace in a rundown gothic mansion in the middle of the English countryside?’
‘Bit of a cliche, don’t you think?'”
When they do indeed find a hidden passage–via a book you pull out of a bookcase, no less–Ruby says, “Cliche ahoy!” Love it!
3. The friendship – I love the way the friendship with twins Ruby and Sam develops. He notices them in the British Museum, and ten minutes later they rescue him from a bad guy. Maybe it’s a little unbelievable that their parents let them go off to the country with Gerald and no parents, but again, who cares? It works for the plot, and there are adults around keeping an eye on them. They’re uniquely suited to work together to solve the mystery–something Gerald couldn’t have done on his own. And by the end, you can tell they’ll be going on many more adventures together.
4. The villains – Yes, that is plural for a reason. There’s the creepy Thin Man who smells like bleach and can cause pain with a single touch, the major with a glass eye, the guy in the pinstripe suit, the uncle who’s angry he didn’t get much in the will, plus the mastermind whose identity isn’t revealed until the end. There are so many villains in this story, and it’s fun figuring out their motives and who is pulling the strings.
5. Gerald’s family heritage – There’s a bit of the supernatural to the story that isn’t fully explained by the end of the book. I expect if I read on in the series I will learn more about it. I don’t want to give too much of it away in this review, but it definitely makes me want to read the other books, so Richard Newsome has earned a repeat reader.
Have you read this series? Let me know what you think!