In Tarquin Jenkins and the Book of Dreams, all young Tarquin Jenkins wants to do is travel through time, have adventures, and solve puzzles. His first few trips do just that but then Tarquin’s life gets complicated. With his time travel coach, a former wrestler named Jeremiah, a strange group of leprechauns, and an infamous space pirate, Tarquin sets off on a quest to find the Nerydire Book of Dreams and the amulet that controls it. He’s not alone in his quest as the Time Guardians and the psychotically violent Griddlebacks and Leche are also on the hunt.
Theme of the Book
Tarquin Jenkins and the Book of Dreams is a book full of adventure and humor. It is also the story of how a young teenager grows and matures to discover what is really important in life.
What I Liked About the Story
Take the background of Harry Potter and mix in a good measure of Dr Who’s time travel. Add the absurd humor and characters of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and innumerable film and pop culture references. Mix in some satire and the result will be Tarquin Jenkins and the Book of Dreams.
It would be an interesting challenge to list all the film and song references and historical personalities that find a home in Mr. Ford’s book. He has certainly let his imagination run wild. Imagine a project that includes Leonardo da Vinci and Nostradamus, a rowdy group of leprechauns disguised as US presidents, a palace guard officer named Captain James T. Kirk, food fights with Samuel Pepys and Isaac Newton. If nothing else, the book will have readers searching Wikipedia for more information about the historical characters the author has included.
Tarquin meets all of those people and manages to get involved in a number of historical events from an attempt to steal the British crown jewels to the Gunpowder Plot and the Boston Tea Party.
The first half of the book introduces Tarquin and Jeremiah and takes the reader on a number of adventures with a little danger and a lot of humor. The book’s second half finds Tarquin in more threatening situations with new and different allies and enemies. The pace of the plot is certainly faster in the second half of the novel so readers who have found the first half slow-going should not give up.
The novel is full of great characters beginning with Tarquin himself who we see grow in confidence and courage as the story continues. Jeremiah, his time travel trainer and companion, is always making sure Tarquin is as safe as possible. Tarquin’s Great-aunt Polidori and Uncle Julius play important roles. But I particularly enjoyed the troupe of leprechauns and their Russian colleague, Oleg.
I’d particularly like to thank the author for his list of characters at the end of the book. That helped a great deal because there are so many characters to keep track of.
What I Didn’t Like About the Story
The second half of the book is fast-moving and full of adventures, but the reader may be overwhelmed by the vast number of characters, most of whom are given only sketchy personalities and are not as interesting or complex as Tarquin and Jeremiah who dominate the first half of the book. Two of the main characters in the second half are Archie and Alice but we know almost nothing about them aside from the fact that they had attended the same time-travel training as Tarquin.
The author’s use of cultural references was mainly enjoyable, but at times I felt as though the people were added to the story just to be there and not because there was really any addition to the plot. I’m sure the author had a wonderful time writing the book and I can picture him thinking of new additions and how much fun it would be to include them. It was overwhelming at times.
The ending was somewhat of a let-down. It is impossible to say more without giving away major plot points, but I was disappointed.
Tarquin Jenkins and the Book of Dreams was a highly entertaining novel suitable for adults and teenagers who will love the adventure and humor but who may miss some of the pop culture references. This seems to be the first in a series of novels featuring Tarquin Jenkins and time travel. Readers of light-hearted science fiction will truly enjoy Mr. Ford’s book.