A Dystopian Steampunk Harry Potter—Pax and the Missing Head by David Barker

Published 25 Oct 2023
by Anca Antoci

Title: Pax and the Missing Head
Author: David Barker
Released: 19.10.2023
Buy from Amazon
4.00 (read)
Our review:
4.50 (read)

It's been a hot minute since I've taken part in a book tour. So here I am, bringing you a newly released gem, curtesy of TheWriteReads blog tour. You know, come to think of it, I discovered so many wonderful books becaused they went on tour with TheWriteReads, that I might have not discovered otherwise. But I digress. If you think Harry Potter meets Divergent is something you'd want to know more about, keep reading!

Description From the Back cover

In a country beset by civil war, New London defends itself behind a giant wall. Inside the city, children are forced to work from an early age, except for the lucky few who train to be leaders in the re-purposed Palace of Westminster. 12-year-old orphaned Pax is brilliant at recycling old tech. He enjoys working on the verti-farms and just wants a bit of peace and quiet. But when that is taken away from him, his only hope is to pass a near-impossible exam and join the other students in Scholastic Parliament. There he’ll make new friends and new enemies. He’ll get tested like never before. And he’ll discover that not everything is quite what it seems under the mayor’s harsh leadership

My book Review

I don’t often read middle grade fantasy, but this is one you’ll want to know more about. Although it was clearly written for middle graders and young adults, I think it’s engaging enough for adults too, especially if you like adventure. The story is set into a steampunk, dystopian fantasy world where the weight of an oppressive rule is felt by all. You’ll step into the shoes of Pax, a young man yearning to break free from a life of labor in a dystopian future London. 

In this story, meet Pax, a young man who defies the norms of a bleak future London. An orphan, he’s just like everyone else in New London, serving the government in one way or another. His days are filled with manual work, and he has few friends and even fewer hopes. But Pax has a unique talent for engineering and fixing things. It’s a narrative that draws parallels to the challenges faced by Harry Potter, only this time set against the backdrop of a dystopian London enclosed by the imposing New London Wall.

As you read, you'll totally relate to Pax's struggles, his search for friendship, and dealing with bullies like mean-boy Zach. You’ll share in his triumph when he discovers his kindred spirits within the Scholastic Parliament. 

Let’s talk about New London, a place I found deeply disheartening. The setting is a stark reminder of how societies can spiral into dystopia when subjected to conflict and authoritarianism.

What drew me to this book was the fascinating setting—what I imagine to be a dystopian version of London. Pax’s aspirations to join the Scholastic Parliament are your gateway to exploring the intricacies of this world. Pax, with his rule-bending skills and his charming robots, is a pretty cool character.

Now, about the book itself—it’s a delightful and easy read, filled with heartwarming friendships and thrilling action. I was easily drawn into the story, and I’m sure you will be too. Although some questions remain unanswered, I have a feeling the subsequent books in the series will shed light on the mysteries. At least that’s what I hope.

If you appreciate well-crafted dystopian tales, you’re in for an engaging adventure. I recommend this book to all fantasy lovers, but especially to middlegraders and young adults.

Our final verdict: