At an elite academy where the wealthiest students from across the galaxy come to be educated, Hugo works as a watchmaker in a dusty attic room. But he is one of the lucky ones. Many androids like him are jobless and homeless. A privileged student like Dorian could never understand their struggle – or so Hugo thinks when the pompous duke comes knocking at his door.

But when Hugo and Dorian uncover a potential terrorist threat, android and student must overcome their differences and work together to track down the culprit before the whole academy is placed in danger.

Genre: Middle Grade, Teen, YA / SCI-FI Mystery

Age appropriate: 8+

Number of Pages: 128

Date of Publication: 02/07/2019


Written by Lauren James who is the twice Carnegie nominated British author of many young adult novels, including ‘The Loneliest Girl in the Universe’ ‘The reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker’ and ‘The Quiet at the End of the World’. The cover art work was designed by Helen Crawford-White.

Published by Barrington Stoke.

Rating: 4.5/5


A SCI-FI Mystery novella about friendship and helping others. The story takes place in an exclusive academy where there are lots of students that come from across the galaxy.

The main characters are Hugo, an android who is a watchmaker who meets Dorian, a student who comes from a star system call Hydrox. They discovered that a few watches have been damaged and that they are missing the quantum energy that powers them. Hugo and Dorian go on the search for the person behind the missing energy and with the help of Ada they embark on an adventure where they have to work together and trust each other.

The pace of the story is well delivered for middle grade readers because it is fast enough to keep you entertained but at the same time it gives you the opportunity to get familiar with the world where the story takes place and also with the characters and their personalities. This is a Sci-Fi short story which makes it a great way to introduce young readers to the genre. The description of the world where the story takes place is well written and it made it easy for me to visualise everything perfectly.

I really liked that this book is very imaginative and full of mystery without being too overwhelming with lots of the superfluous details often found in science fiction. I actually didn’t expect what happened at the end of the story which was refreshing as children’s books are often very predictable. 

How the friendship between the characters is developed through the story was really good, how they get to know each other and learned to appreciate their qualities and abilities no matter where they came from was very nice and it is a great message for everyone, especially younger readers.

This novella has a dyslexia-friendly layout, typeface and paper stock which is great as it allows more young readers and readers in general to enjoy this story.  The paper is very good quality, heavy and smooth with little to no glare and the special print stands out very clearly.

Extra info: The sequel ‘The Deep-Sea Duke’ will be published in February 2021. I can’t wait for this book.

Availability: The book can be found in Barrington Stoke Website Here, and in all good bookshops.

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