Could you imagine being told by someone that they have come from the future? Or actually seeing them arrive? When Peter and Kate are transported back to the 18th century, they are found with the contraption that took them by someone known as the Tar Man, or Blueskin. He takes the machine and leaves them not knowing how they have got to wherever it is that they have found themselves.
Gideon is the man who helps Peter and Kate, he has arrived in the area to take a post with a family, leaving his former employer wanting his return. His helping the children coincides with an attempt by his former employer to force him back, utilizing the services of the Tar Man. He feels badly that their machine has been taken by the Tar Man and takes them to the home of his new employer and from there back to London, where the Tar Man has also taken their machine.
Meanwhile, in the 21st century, the police are searching for Peter and Kate, and the scientists are trying to figure out what has happened to both the children and their machine. The police are highly suspicious of the lack of information about the children, and when a sighting is reported of them in London, dressed in old fashioned clothes in a supermarket car park, everything gets rather more complicated.
I liked the interplay between the two timezones – some books about time travel tell only the story of those who travel, ignoring the anguish of those left behind. It was important that the children were missed, and allows for some good interchange between the police and the parents. Most interestingly, the time machine is actually part of a NASA project – might that be significant? I am not sure, but I liked the fact that NASA are farming out bits of research to small facilities in Derbyshire.
A great deal of effort has gone into creating this story, illustrating the contrast between harsh lives of people in the 18th century and those of the children that have come from the present. Whilst I knew in a general way of the filth and the violence meted out to poor people, this is quite graphic in showing how the treatment of people depended not on their crime but on the size of their purse.
This report prepared by eyal