Book Review: The Crooked Sixpence (The Uncommoners) by Jennifer Bell, Karl James Mountford

The Crooked Sixpence is the first book in The Uncommoners series written by Jennifer Bell and illustrated by Karl James Mountford. When their grandmother Sylvie is rushed to the hospital, Ivy Sparrow and her annoying big brother Seb cannot imagine what adventure lies in store. Soon their house is ransacked by unknown intruders, and a very strange policeman turns up on the scene, determined to apprehend them, with a toilet brush. Ivy and Seb make their escape only to find themselves in a completely uncommon world, a secret underground city called Lundinor where ordinary objects have amazing powers. There are belts that enable the wearer to fly, yo-yos that turn into weapons, buttons with healing properties, and other enchanted objects capable of very unusual feats. But the forces of evil are closing in fast, and when Ivy and Seb learn that their family is connected to one of the greatest uncommon treasures of all time, they must race to unearth the treasure and get to the bottom of a family secret before it’s too late.

The Crooked Sixpence is a fantasy coming of age story with great middle grade characters and compelling world. While the idea of object holding magic and family secrets about magic, are not new ideas, I think the characters and action made the concepts fresh and exciting. The caring and grit Ivy has made me happy. I love seeing girl characters using both compassion and intelligence to save the day rather than one or the other. The family relationships and secret were well done, although more could have been done with Ivy and Seb. I found that they went from the typical siblings that annoy or ignore each other to perfect team without really addressing anything or even noticing. I did think that the mistrust of those they met in Lundinor, and the coming understanding and acceptance of the way it works was very well done. I enjoyed the world building and character development, and I would love to learn more about the creatures and object that populate the realm. 

The Crooked Sixpence is one that I had a had a couple false starts with, only because it was not what I was in the mood to read the first couple times I picked it up. Once I actually get reading past the first couple pages I was completely engaged. I enjoyed the characters, the story, and the world. I look forward to seeing more from this series.

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