It's Only a Matter of "Thyme"
So, is there a new series that provides that elusive JK Rowling blend of fantasy, humour, mystery and adventure, not to mention a similarly rewarding investment opportunity? This month's author not only meets all these requirements but cloaks his (or perhaps her) identity in a tantalising shroud of mystery!
Panama Oxridge's Justin Thyme skilfully manages to recreate all the Harry Potter magic, using ingenious technical wizardry instead of wands and spells. Set in a Scottish Castle, this fantastic story has everything - eye-catching cover graphics, a cast of wonderfully eccentric characters, and a plot with more twists than a barbecued boa constrictor! Chapters are interspersed with a scientifically well-informed explanation of time travel - and, although the author strenuously denies hiding cryptic clues throughout the text, observant readers beg to differ. A mini-dictionary at the back of the book, defining more than 450 of the most challenging words in the story, has earned a stamp of approval from teachers and librarians. Even the dust-jacket design prompts gasps of astonishment; the title is an ambigram, (a word that can be viewed from different angles), which means it's always legible ... even if the book is displayed upside-down!
Loath to reveal as few of the book's secrets as possible, the author established an independent press, Interrobang, to publish the first book in the Tartan of Thyme series. While many self-published authors do little of the actual publishing work themselves, opting to pay for copy-editing, type-setting, proof-reading, design, layout, cover graphics and illustrations, what makes this book exceptional is that the author has done everything, even created the ambigram. It's no understatement to say that attention to detail in this book is awesome, yet the author prefers to remain unaccountably anonymous.
So who is Panama Oxridge and why would an established author choose to hide behind such an obvious pseudonym? Perhaps she (or he) prefers that readers divine their own image of the author from the words on the page. Or maybe it's because prior to writing "Justin Thyme", he (or she) was an extremely successful creator of several picture-puzzle books. Either way, the identity of this "Paradox-Enigma" is cunningly concealed somewhere in the book, offering readers a unique challenge - to discover the truth for themselves!
More details about the story:
Justin Thyme is a self-made billionaire living in a castle overlooking Loch Ness. The day he turns thirteen, he receives an anonymous gift - a fabulous watch with a puzzling message hidden on it. When he tells his father of his plans to build a time machine, the Laird of Thyme reveals tantalising fragments of past espionage and warns his son of a ruthless enemy keeping him under constant surveillance. At first, Justin fails to take Sir Willoughby seriously, but when a stranger arrives claiming to be his long-lost grandfather, Justin is wary, especially after his beloved Nanny insists the old man is an impostor.
Justin's TV celebrity mother departs on a Congo expedition with her eccentric film crew and Eliza, a computer-literate gorilla. Whilst returning, Lady Henny is abducted, and clues prove that the kidnapper has inside information; someone in Thyme Castle must be a spy - or possibly it's Sir Willoughby's old enemy in disguise. Everyone is under suspicion - Justin's nervy tutor; their snooping housekeeper; the theatrical gardener; an ex-royal butler; and Mrs Kof, their freakishly strong cook.
Suddenly, the race against time is on. Can Justin convert his vintage motorbike into a time machine, rescue his mum and discover the identity of their resident spy in less than a week ... or will the dreaded Thyme Curse claim another life?
Current prices for first prints in fine condition are as follows: The book-plated copies can be had for about £250, doodled copies £64.99, and an unsigned copy is just £12.99. Apparently, two major publishers are currently looking at the book. Also, Foyles bookshop in London has just agreed to stock the title. So, from a collector's point of view there is still time to snap up a bargain before prices soar. This is the first book of four in "The Tartan of Thyme" series. I loved this book so much I'm counting the thyme until book two comes out. Check out the website too. It's amazing.
So, rather than asking the question "Who will be the next JK Rowling?" ... surely there's a new question all us book fanatics must ask: "Who will be the next Panama Oxridge?"
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