Nice idea, poor execution. The intended audience seems muddled and unclear - the presentation of ideas ranged from over-simplified to strangely sophisticated. Some of these didn't really seem like mysteries, or at least not something you could solve with the evidence available today. Perhaps it is a good way to get kids thinking about art in a deeper way, but I was not impressed.
Typos (I saw 4) were a distraction. I was also bothered by the format of the timeline. People are shown with a lifespan - a range stretching across years. But events that last many years are shown with only the starting point. Also, some of the people in the timeline are not even mentioned in the text. Seems sloppy.
Read this to my 10yo son, who kept falling asleep as I read. Partially that's because we were staying up later than normal part of the time, but also because the story does drag at times. The plot has science fiction, alien visitation, crop circles, evil villains, time travel, teleportation(?), and so on - not typical fare for either one of us. But we cared about the characters and the storyline, so we finished it.
A good introduction to various artistic techniques, but it really is only an introduction. I was distracted by all the asterisks (directing reader to glossary in back of book).
As usual when reading this series, I was impressed at how much insight Jacqueline Winspear provides into the trauma and after-effects suffered by the soldiers of World War I. This story takes place in about one week, beginning on Christmas Eve 1931. Maisie is working with Scotland Yard to track down a killer who is threatening to attack London itself if his/her demands are not met. Great stuff.
Perhaps I'm not the intended audience. I don't know enough Brit Lit to fully appreciate that aspect, and I didn't really understand the world (all the levels of SpecOps, what the Litera Tecs really do, etc.). I was interested enough to finish it, but it felt like I was reading out of obligation more than interest.
And the Kindle formatting seemed wonky - at times I got the impression that the print book probably had some kind of font/fostering change because otherwise the changes were too jarring.
Timely: "It didn't fit my idea of what a just war should be. Pushing Nazis out of Europe had been just. The fight over the Crimean Peninsula was nothing but xenophobic pride and misguided patriotism." (P 79)