Bureau of Mysteries and the Mechanomancers, by HJ Harper

I was about to take refuge under a table when a shadow fell across the hotel room, and I looked up to find a bull picking its way down Main Street. But this was no regular bovine: it stood three stories tall and was made of metal. Its iron hide glinted in the bright sunlight as clouds of steam snorted from its nostrils. The bull pawed at the earth and let out a bellow so loud it hurt my ears.

The land of Obscuria is in trouble once again. as crafty Mechanomancers wreak havoc. Blending magic with technology the giant trouble makers seem usntoppable. Even George and his partner Imp Spektor, and their fellows in the Bureau of Mysteries, are struggling to find a mix – but the heroic adventurer Lord Perwinkle Tinkerton seems to know how to overcome the menace. Could he be that with Tinkerton on the job, the Bureau is no longer relevant?

The Mechanomancers is the second in the Bureau of Mysteries series, a fast paced, code-cracking, humorous adventure for primary aged readers. With a steam punk flavour, and plenty of weird characters and messy scrapes, there’s a lot here to like.

Told from the first person perspective of George Featehr, a former chimney sweeper who has been taken into the Bureau because of his abilities to crack codes, the story moves quickly, encouraging readers to stop and have a go at cracking various codes, but allowing them to also progress without doing it for themselves.

Although this is the second in a series, it can be read independently of the first.

Bureau of Mysteries 2 (Bureau of Mysteries)

The Mechanomancers (Bureau of Mysteries), by HJ Harper, illustrated by Nahum Ziersch
Random House, 2013
ISBN 9781742756486

Available online or from good bookstores.