An accidental fall down an ancient mineshaft leads to the discovery of a refugee scientist's research diary that describes a new super element, Kindronium 379. Unfortunately, news of the discovery leaks to agents of the International Communist Workers party. The fight for possession of the document culminates in a gun battle within the confines of the old mine.
This tale starts off in North Wales in 1944. Both children and scientists have been placed out of harm’s way during WWII. The mystery of the old journal, the mines, and the hidden ways within the Gwrych Castle are what drew me into the tale and kept me listening. The story jumps back and forth between 1944 and 1953. A scientist in 1944 is doing what little he can to find an end to war. Then in 1953, a boy finds the scientist’s journal and is drawn into the hunt for what the scientist left behind.
This story does have some flaws. It took me a while to work out the jumping back and forth. In part, I think this was due to the narration (which I discuss below). Also, the two main characters (the scientist and the kid) don’t get named right away and I honestly can’t recall their names. I believe the first named character is another kid in 1953, Jim. I’m trying to recall if there were any female characters at all and I’m not remembering any. If they were included, they had brief appearances and were not plot relevant. So this story could have used some gender balancing.
Now the secret hidden places in the castle were intriguing. I’m always drawn into old buildings of any sort that have little secret rooms or passage ways. Then the mines and what could be left or lost or hidden in them also pulled me in. I really liked that the journal was written in German and it took more than just a couple of 1953 teenage boys to translate it.
Then I also liked the big mystery of kindronium 379. I used to work with transuranic wastes, so the science-y bits were a nice touch. It added a little scifi flavor to this story. The tale does end with a bit of mystery. This transuranic element needs decades to brew before it becomes it’s final magnificent self, if it ever does. Perhaps the author will come back and give us a near-future scifi tale about it.
I received a free copy of this book.
The Narration: Barry Jones narrated his own book and unfortunately that did not enhance the tale. His narration skills need a lot of work. He attempted to do a few accents, but they wobbled and were over accentuated at times. The volume does go up and down a little bit. Sometimes Jones sounded a bit bored with the story himself, which made it hard for me to pay attention. Often, his character voices weren’t distinct and this made it difficult to keep track of who was saying and doing what.