Accused of an assassination attempt and thrown in jail, India is rescued by scientist-adventurer Professor Moon: a man obsessed with finding the Bloodstone; key to a source of unlimited energy hidden in the lost city of Atlantis. Now Moon wants India and Verity to join his quest.
Pursued by gangsters, lumbered with a stowaway and haunted by the ghosts of her past, India must risk everything to uncover Atlantis's secrets. But the truth comes at a price.
Allan Boroughs's debut novel, Ironheart, was one of my favourite books of 2014 and, having read it back in February I spent a lot of last year desperate to read the sequel, Bloodstone. As someone who has become rather jaded with post-apocalyptic/dystopian stories in recent years, I felt that Boroughs brought a freshness to the genre with his old school adventure story. I think also the fact this is firmly in Middle Grade territory and therefore does not contain the doom and gloom of a lot of dystopian YA contributed to my love of the story. If If you hadn't already worked it out from my blogging and tweeting last year I'm more than a little fed up with dark YA, but I simply cannot get enough of exciting Middle Grade adventure stories like this.
So, did Bloodstone meet up to the high expectations I had following Ironheart? Absolutely, and then some. It's hard to compare a a sequel to the original when nine months or so has passed between reading the first book, but I am confident in saying that Bloodstone is even better than its predecessor. This is mainly because it benefits from the main characters and their post-apocalyptic world already having been established in Ironheart, so now the author gets to have as much fun as is humanly possible with his creations.
Bloodstone picks up more than a year after the conclusion of Ironheart. India Bentley has been accompanying her mentor, Verity Brown, on her tech-hunting adventures and a potentially highly profitable find has them travelling to Sing City, the tech-hunting capital of the world. It's not a particularly pleasant place, and if you were hunting for a "more wretched hive of scum and villainy" than Mos Eisley, then Sing City would probably fit the bill. Of course, every wretched hive needs its kingpin, or in this case queenpin, and the Aunt Entity of Sing City is the merciless Lady Fang (she collects human eyeballs... 'nuff said).
Verity and India's trading plans do not go as smoothly as they would have hoped, and it isn't long before India finds herself up to her neck in trouble, and on the run from Lady Fang and her goons, and also from a group of mad monks who have taken it on themselves to make recycling old rubbish central to their dogma. However, with a little help from a handful of new characters India finds herself fleeing towards Antarctica in search of parts of the Bloodstone, which legend has it will give the wielder incredible power when complete.
I've had the good fortune to meet Allan Boroughs since I read Ironheart, although for some reason we didn't spend any time discussing influences and inspirations. However, if I were a betting man I would happily wager that Allan and I have a lot of these in common. Indiana Jones, the works of Jules Verne, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, Star Wars, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (a film that holds a special place in my heart as I think it is the first film I can remember seeing at the cinema, although that honour may belong to Star Wars: A New Hope?)... tropes used in all of these and many other films/books are present in Bloodstone, whether intentionally or not, and together they make for a fast-paced thrilling joyride of a story that I think many 9+ year olds (and many much older) will love.
Bloodstone was published on 1st January and my thanks go to the fab people at Macmillan for sending me a copy to read/review. Watch this space for reviews of more fab Middle Grade books from Macmillan as it looks like they might be ruling the MG roost in the UK in 2015.