Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Midnight for Charlie Bone: Children of the Red King Book One Audio

Midnight for Charlie Bone: Children of the Red King Book One Audio

Jenny Nimmo
For ages 9 to 12
Unabridged audiobook (Digital)
Performed/read by: Simon Russell Beale
Audible, 2015   ISBN: 978-1400086146

Charlie Bone is quite content with his life. He is very fond of his best friend Benjamin, and Benjamin’s dog Runner Bean, and he is happy living with Mum and his Grandma Maisie, though he could probably do without his Grandma Bone who is always complaining and grumpy. Then, one day something decidedly peculiar happens which completely changes Charlie’s life forever. Charlie develops the ability to hear the thoughts of people who appear in photographs. Charlie is not at all happy about this new found ability, but Grandma Bone is delighted, as are his creepy aunts. Apparently this means that he has inherited the family tendency to have a “gift.” The Yewbeam aunts arrange for Charlie to go to a special school, Bloor’s Academy, which caters to talented children, and which has a number of “endowed” children like Charlie in their student body. Charlie does not want to go to this school but he discovers that he does not really have a choice because the Yewbeam aunts hold the family purse strings and without their help his family would be penniless.

Then Charlie’s unusual gift gets him involved in a most extraordinary story. He discovers, because of a photograph, that ten years ago an inventor gave away his baby daughter under very suspicious circumstances. Now the inventor’s sister is trying to find the missing child and clues suggest that the child is at Bloor’s academy. Machines that the now dead inventor left behind leave further clues as to what happened to the child. Charlie and Ben soon discover that they are not the only ones looking for the secret behind this lost child. For some reason the Yembeam aunts and people from Bloors Academy are also on the trail, and they are determined to get what they are looking for. Charlie soon comes to appreciate that a deadly race is going on and that he is going to need all the help he can get if he is going to have any chance of winning.

This first story in the Charlie Bone series is sure to have young listeners thoroughly hooked in no time at all. Not only is the story gripping, engaging, and highly entertaining, but the author leaves certain highly important matters unresolved, which we know she will come back to in a future stories. For example, we find out that Charlie’s father is not, in fact, dead but missing. Clearly finding his father is one of the things that Charlie is going to have to do at some point in the future. We are also only given a taste of the “endowments” that the children at Bloor’s Academy have. One can imagine that there is much more to come and much more to look forward to.

Simon Russell Beale puts his acting skills to good use in this narrative to create an astonishing array of accents and personalities. Listeners will soon be swept up by the story, and they will hope that Charlie is going to be able to stand strong against the evil descendants of the Red King.