The Traitors' Gate
Or what of the one-legged, single-mindedly fierce Sergeant Muldspoon, John's teacher? What about the boy's great-great-aunt, Lady Euphemia Huffam, who could pay the debt but won't for reasons of her own? What about the secretive Mr. Snugsbe of All Hallows Church, who hides himself away in the City's most voluminous coat?
Then there's Chief Inspector Ratchet of Scotland Yard, who is after somebody for some crime or other. True, John has a new friend and ally in Sary the Sneak...but what has even she got up her sleeve?
What John learns on his own is that there's a traitor on the loose, somewhere. And he must uncover the villain -- no matter who it might be.
John Huffam is a fourteen-year old boy, uneagerly attending Sergeant Muldspoons Militantly Motivated Academy. John and his teacher share a mutual loathing of one another, and Johns favorite part of the school day is lunchtime, when he can read The Tales of the Genii with his friends. His father is a gentleman, and Johns family lives comfortably with their Irish servant, Brigit.
One day, Brigit bursts into Johns classroom, announcing that John must come home immediately. John is horrified to find that his familys belongings are being lugged away and his father is being arrested on account of owing a certain Mr. ODoul a debt of 300 pounds! 300 pounds is more than Johns father makes in a year working at the Naval Ordinance Office and John has no idea how his father plans to pay off this debt. For the time being, the Huffam family is sent to live in a sponging house, a holding pen of sorts for debtors awaiting trial.
Mr. Huffam insists to his son that he owes no such debt to Mr. ODoul and begs John to visit his great-great-aunt Lady Euphemia and ask for her help. Lady Euphemia has never liked Johns father, but since John is the last of the Huffams, she might be inclined to help him out.
If Lady Euphemia wont help them, then the Huffams might have to turn to Mr. Farquatt, Johns sister Clarissas French suitor. With his family in such a dire situation, John decides to take matters into his own hands. When his father sneaks out of the sponging house one day, John follows him, and finds out that his father is involved in much more serious matters than just a gambling debt. What secrets are Johns father hiding from him? Everyone John meets, from Chief Inspector Ratchet of Scotland Yard to the orphan Sary the Sneak, is involved in this mystery. John quickly learns that some people are not to be trusted. Can John discover whom the traitor is in order to save his father?
Avi is a prolific writer of young adult novels, and The Traitors Gate is his latest work of historical fiction. Based loosely on events from Charles Dickens childhood, Avi has fabricated a compelling story of truth and deceit. Always staying true to the time period, Avi weaves so much historically relevant information into the story that The Traitors Gate is better than any history class. I highly recommend The Traitors Gate to all readers, as well as some of Avis other historical adventure stories, including The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and Crispin: The Cross of Lead.