The City of Secret Rivers

Jacob Sager Weinstein

The City of Secret Rivers
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The City of Secret Rivers

Jacob Sager Weinstein

An exciting subterranean London adventure, the first in a middle-grade trilogy.

Hyacinth Hayward has recently arrived from America and is having difficulty adjusting to her new surroundings, especially being in the sole company of her eccentric mother. Everything feels strange. Very strange. And it gets stranger the day she accidentally unleashes the power of a secret river running through London.

To prevent a second Great Fire, Hyacinth needs to retrieve a single, magically charged drop of water from somewhere in the city sewer system. Along the way she encounters an eclectic cast of characters - the shambling, monstrous Saltpetre Men who kidnap her mother, the Toshers who battle for control of magical artefacts and a giant pig with whom she has a tea party. The clock is ticking - will she figure out who to trust?


She has only just moved to London, but things are already very weird and very dangerous for Hyacinth. After a bizarre incident involving tap water, Hyacinth’s mother has been kidnapped by slimy creatures in postal uniforms. Hyacinth finds herself thrown into a rollicking and foul-smelling adventure as she descends into London’s underground sewers and magical river systems. Hyacinth is accompanied by her elderly neighbour Lady Roslyn, the only person who seems to have any idea what is going on: though Rosalyn is tight-lipped and not exactly trustworthy.

This book is delightfully imaginative and filled with clever detail. It’s a really great mix of action, humour, and repulsive stinks. I enjoyed the way the author lovingly poked fun at British mannerisms and I certainly won’t forget the giant magical sewer-dwelling boar anytime soon! This is a really fun book and a great choice for those who have recently enjoyed this year’s Readings Children’s Book Prize winner, A Most Magical Girl. For ages 8+.

Kim Gruschow is the Children’s Book Buyer at Readings St Kilda.

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