The Shadow of the Great Fire

The 17th book in the SHADOWS FROM THE PAST time-travel series

Children - Adventure
200 Pages
Reviewed on 08/03/2020
Buy on Amazon

Author Biography

I spent 20 years as a teacher of French, Latin and Classical studies, before a change of career led me to writing children's fiction. Originally from the UK, I now live in France with my husband and our beautiful Tonkinese cat.

Shadows from the Past is a series of time-travel adventures, featuring 3 children and a rather special Tonkinese cat - the incomparable Maximus Lancelot to give him his full name. I'm currently working on the eighteenth book, The Shadow of the Slave Ship. The full-length books are also accompanied by some shorter stories, Max's Adventures, all of which see the talking feline hero, Max, undertaking solo missions in the past.

As I take my young readers on a magical mystery tour through the past, I'm hoping that my love of history, myth and legend will rub off on them too.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Alyssa Elmore for Readers' Favorite

Still in search of their missing parents, the Lancelot twins are going on another thrilling adventure through the mists of time in the middle-grade adventure, The Shadow of The Great Fire (Shadows From The Past: Book 17) by Wendy Leighton-Porter. A new clue to the disappearance of eleven-year-old Joe and Jemima Lancelot's parents is revealed by the Guardians of Time. Joe, Jemima, their best friend Charlie, and their enormous talking Tonkinese cat, Max, must race against the clock to piece the mystery together before it's too late. Armed with their knowledge of history, a special amulet that allows them to speak and understand all languages (including cat), and a key to help them return home, the three children and their cat must use their wits to uncover the mystery of the enigmatic round object for which they are now searching. Their destination: London in the Summer of 1666. The Plague is still ravaging the city. Joe, Jemima, Charlie, and Max are horrified to learn that although the numbers of deaths are decreasing, they must still be cautious. Adding to the threat, the children quickly discover that they have arrived a few days before The Great Fire of London. Now, they must warn the city of the looming fire and uncover the secret to their other mission before they are discovered. When the fire breaks out, the children find that there is more going on in the city streets than they first realized. As Joe, Jemima, Charlie, and Max search for more clues surrounding the new object, they learn that their secret isn't safe and the key is in jeopardy of being stolen. Will Joe and Jemima finally be reunited with their parents? Or will they too be lost in the mists of time?

The Shadow of The Great Fire by Wendy Leighton-Porter is a perfect pandemic treat for the middle-grade reader. When twins Joe and Jemima Lancelot, their best friend Charlie, and Jemima's large talking Tonkinese cat Special Agent Max, step through a portal in time, we never know what to expect. What we can be certain of is that their new time-traveling adventure will be riddled with danger, intrigue, and the wild hope of finally finding Joe and Jemima's parents. I am always impressed with the ingenuity, love, and compassion of the friends as they search for James and Isabel Lancelot. As a parent, I am very particular about providing my son with educational stories. I truly enjoy Ms. Leighton-Porter's Shadows of The Past Series, as the books are historically accurate and the author includes dossiers on the central elements of history and how she changed circumstances to include them in her stories. The books are so educational, I have used several titles in the series as a base for history class in my son's schooling. The characters are charming, the adventures thrilling, and Max's attitude (and delightful fear of rodents) keep us anxiously waiting for the next installment. Now, with the introduction of a new twist, fans of Shadows of The Past series simply do not want to miss this book! Although this is not the first book in the series, it is an excellent standalone.

K.C. Finn

The Shadow of the Great Fire is a work of fiction for middle grade and YA audiences and was penned by author Wendy Leighton-Porter. Focused on the themes of time travel and the exploration of world history, the book forms the seventeenth volume in the Shadows From The Past series, continuing the amazing adventures of the trio Jemima, Joe and Charlie, as well as their enigmatic cat Max. In this adventure, we find our heroes in London in the year 1666, where plague is rife, but an even greater disaster is brewing. Just days before the Great Fire is due to take down the city, our heroes discover the truth behind those sparks.

Author Wendy Leighton-Porter is a timeless favorite of mine, and I was once again terribly excited to enter the world of Shadows From The Past. I cannot recommend this series enough to children and their families to bond over, and for the many educational benefits and historical learning opportunities that the books present. In this adventure, I was enraptured by the grimy heat of London in its plague-ridden state, and the characters who come into play within this new tale offer insights and realistic depictions of what it would be like to live at that time. This immersive quality allows us to learn along with the children, and of course, Max the reluctant adventurer cat offers plenty of laughs and hijinks to juxtapose the high drama. Overall, I would highly recommend The Shadow of the Great Fire for readers who enjoy immersive historical adventures with strong characters and great atmospheric writing.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Fires are dangerous. And scary. When the Great Fire of London demolished most of London, England, in 1666, many feared it was a foreign invasion. So much of the city was destroyed, reduced to ashes, even the famous St. Paul’s Cathedral. Time traveler children, the twins Jemima and Joe along with their best friend Charlie and the fantastical talking cat, Max, are set on another adventure. They’re not sure why the mysterious book that holds the portal to other eras wants them to return to London of 1666, just days before the Great Fire, and at a time when the plague threatened much of the population. And, when they learn at the end the reason, they are saddened to realize they were so close.

Wendy Leighton-Porter’s young people’s novel, The Shadow of the Great Fire, is the seventeenth book in the Shadows from the Past time-travel series. Like the other books in the series, this one doesn’t disappoint. There is lots of adventure coupled with history to attract young readers while at the same time educate them. The plot develops steadily and the characters are well developed. For fans of this series, it’s like joining a group of best friends on another exciting journey into the past. And you have to love the cat, Max. The author knows her history and, whilst some of the details are altered to serve the purpose of the story’s plot, the entire story is a marvelous re-telling of history. You can actually feel the heat of the devastating fire and smell the rot of a city still infested with a devastating plague. And, as in the previous books in the series, the author includes a concise glossary of interesting historical facts at the end of the novel. Another great read from an inspiring author.