Justin Thyme, by Panama Oxridge for (this Wednesday's) Timeslip Tuesday

Time got away from me the last few days, so Timeslip Tuesday falls on a Wednesday this week!

Today's book is Justin Thyme, by Panema Oxridge (Inside Pocket, revised edition, 2010 in the UK, 2011 in the US, middle grade, 368 pages). It is a story set in a Scottish castle that combines domestic insanity with an intriguing mystery...and throws in time travel right at the end.

Little do the residents of Thyme Castle know that all heck is about to break loose. It all begins when young Justin, boy genius and self-made billionaire, receives an anonymous gift for his thirteenth birthday--a mysterious watch--which inspires him to build a time machine. His father, Sir Whilloughby Thyme, is shaken by this idea. He had once been a great inventor himself, and had almost perfected a time machine of his own-- before defying the ruthless enemy who had wanted to wrest the invention from him. The enemy is still out there--waiting and watching Thyme Castle...

Inside the castle, Justin begins to peacefully unravel the mysteries of time. But all heck breaks loose when Justin's mother, returning after disastrous expedition to the Congo, is kidnapped, and the kidnapper demands a time machine as the ransom.

Someone in the castle is a spy. But is it the newly arrived long-lost grandfather, suffering from amnesia, the freakishly strong cook with secrets in her past, who arrived with no references, the eccentric bird-watching tutor, the computer-literate gorilla, or the most unusual gardener and his snooping wife? And who is the evil mastermind, come back from Sir Whilloughby's past to trouble the present?

Justin and his older sister Robyn (not natural allies) set to work to save their mother by unraveling the mysteries that surround them. For Justin, being a boy genius, this includes converting his vintage motorbike into a time machine, in a desperate effort to save his mother before the dreaded Thyme Curse claims another life....

I'd highly recommend this one to those who enjoy solving puzzles, spotting clues, and, in general, trying to second-guess the author! And more so to those who enjoy over-the-top domestic eccentricity. It is, quite simply, a fun book, that should please its target audience of middle grade kids very much.

I myself became a tad doubtful when I realized a gorilla was part of the Thyme family montage--I am not, personally, a huge fan of the domestic bizarre. It took me the first hundred pages to get into the swing of things, but at that point Oxridge drew me into to the story so well that I found myself enjoying all the oddness (even the gorilla), despite myself. I felt much the same when I realized that the main character was a boy genius (I don't care for them), but by playing Justin off the other characters, Oxridge managed to make him interesting (and those that are newer than I am to this trope will probably find him interesting from the get go!)

This is the first of a four part series, and the time travel aspect of the larger story arc doesn't really begin until the very end of this volume. In fact, I was wondering right up to the end if I could justifiably use this as a Timeslip Tuesday book at all--sure, there are pages of notes from Justin's efforts to work out his theories of time, and his dad had invented a time machine prototype of his own...but that wouldn't have been enough. But just as I was giving up hope, Justin succeeded in traveling through time, and his true adventures seem about to begin. I'll be looking for the next book, to feature on some future Timeslip Tuesday!

The US edition of Justin Thyme was just published in September, and it just came out in paperback in the UK, where the second book in the series, Time Running Out, was just released.

(disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher)


  1. Cute title...I love the play on words. Sounds like a fun story, too! Thanks for the review!

  2. Two posts in a row in my google reader that just had to comment on! Yay!

    I have had this on my wishlist since it came out in the UK and a friend in the UK posted about it. Nice to see it's coming to North America now. I should check out my local store!

  3. @kathy and @cat - would you like to receive a review copy? Feel free to email me tara@insidepocket.co.uk


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