Publisher: Devonfield Publishing (2019)

Tom and Sarah are best friends who reside in a dilapidated English orphanage housed in a 16th-century castle. Only this castle isn’t the kind that inspires romance or chivalry; Weatherly orphanage is run like a maximum-security prison where children are forced to work, creating goods that are sold in the local village.

Many orphans have tried to get beyond Weatherly’s gates and have failed. Mr. Speckle, a scurrilous caretaker, prowls the grounds, keeping constant surveillance, ensuring the children are working and staying in their place. But Tom is a daring lad, often going on “raids” to steal books from the private library of Weatherly’s owners for his friends to read. Mr. and Mrs. Grievous, a dreadful pair who frown upon any sort of learning, run the orphanage.

One day, Tom and Sarah resolve to get out of Weatherly – forever. Ahead of them, the path is long, twisting, and dangerous, filled with a whirlwind tour through the English countryside. Here, author Stewart sharpens his focus and showcases the beauty and mystery of Great Britain. Readers will discover the places that are dear to the author’s heart as Tom and Sarah travel far and wide, including places such as the Midlands, Canterbury, Windsor Castle London and many more. But trouble is always nipping at Tom and Sarah’s heels, and when the renowned Detective Gowerstone takes up the case, the pair are nearly captured. They only escape by commandeering a hot-air balloon!

As we follow them on their clandestine route, we begin to learn more about who Tom might be—and why some highly placed operatives would like to see him eliminated altogether. It all goes back 150 years to the disappearance of the mysterious Britfield dynasty and the ascendancy of Queen Victoria, leaving one to wonder, Did the wrong person get the crown?

Britfield and the Lost Crown delivers as a detailed and intriguing first-in-series read that is sure to capture the attention of the middle grade and young adult crowd and those who love the Y/A action and adventure genre. Readers journey through the English cities and countryside beautifully rendered in the narrative. The book also includes maps and intelligent background information about the setting and history with access to online illustrations and commentaries on castles, villages, and towns where our heroes visit. Overall, Britfield weaves plot, texture, storytelling, and fascinating characters into a winning combination and enriching experience for adventure fans.