The Time Thief (UK: The Tar Man)

The Time ThiefTitle: US: The Time Thief, UK: The Tar Man

Author: Linda Buckley-Archer

Genre: Young Adult/Science Fiction

Edition/Pages: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, December 2007/488 pages

Rating: ✭✭✭½

Short & Sweet Synopsis: An 18ᵗʰ century super-villian accidentally gets returned to the 21ˢᵗ century, taking the place of the young, modern-day boy who is still trapped in 1763 (ish). 

Before you read this, you may want to check out my review of the first book in this series, The Time Travelers (UK: Gideon the Cutpurse).

I’m going to start this review out with an order for you readers out there (just imagine me behind my keyboard wagging my finger at you): If you plan on reading this, for God’s sake start with book one. It will make NO sense to you otherwise. Well, maybe a little sense after a while, but not much. That said, let’s get to the heart of the matter: the next book in the Gideon trilogy. Otherwise known as,

2 English kids travel back in time via anti-gravity machine and meet an 18ᵗʰ century felon, Part II

In this second installment of The Gideon Trilogy, one of our 21ˢᵗ century protagonists is still stuck in 1763 (and 1792 – you’ll understand once you read it), while our 18ᵗʰ century antagonist has managed to piggyback a ride to the 21ˢᵗ century on the anti-gravity machine. As I’m sure any citizen of the 18ᵗʰ century would do when flung 300 years ahead of his or her time – let alone a member of that era’s criminal element – we find that our Tar Man (A.K.A. Blueskin) has a knack for wreaking havoc everywhere he goes by using the dangerous combination of modern technology and blurring (people who followed my commandment and read the first book, you should understand this). This chapter of our story is less about Peter and Kate, and more of an even spread between the kids, the Tar Man, the police, the parents, and the scientists. Whew, that’s a lot of characters to keep track of.
If you found the number of characters and time periods that the first book jumped between slightly confusing, this one will only be worse – not only are there even more characters whose parts all seem to grow in this book, but we are now dealing with three, yes three different time periods. Oh, and parallel universes, did I forget to mention that?

So, how does book 2 hold up, you ask?

Although I admittedly didn’t like the storyline in this book nearly as much the one in the first book, it was a fun, relatively quick read which I enjoyed. Actually, I finished it in about a day…in all fairness, I was sick in bed and doing nothing else but sleeping periodically. But I’m getting off track, back to the review: if you liked the writing style in the first book you’ll probably enjoy this one too, as they’re very similar. This book is also just as well researched as the first one, in case you were wondering, and the little historical details make it that much more enjoyable. Oh, and just a warning: this one ends with a cliffhanger like the first book did, albeit not a quite as desperate one. So now, I’ve got to finish up the other books I have from the library before their due dates, and then run to get the third one as fast as I can to see what happens. From what has happened so far, it wouldn’t surprise me if the sky really did start falling in the next book. But that’s it, no more hints – go out and read it for yourselves (but Gideon the Cutpurse first!).

Some other reviews worth reading:

From Damsels In Regress: Through all this history the action still does a good job of moving the story forward and it’s never predictable.  As a reader I never knew what would happen next or even how the novel would end.

From Through The Looking Glass Children’s Book Reviews: In this sequel to her first story about Peter and Kate, Linda Buckley Archer takes her readers on a thrilling adventure that not only entertains but that also poses some interesting questions about time travel.



  1. Wow – sounds like an action packed read, but definitely confusing unless you’ve read the first one in the series. Hope you’re feeling better, by the way! 🙂

    1. It is both of those things, I’m glad my review came across the way I wanted it to! Since they’re young adult books they are relatively quick reads, but definitely fast-paced and entertaining. And thanks! I’m getting there…the antibiotics are finally starting to work their magic. 🙂

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