Howard Lyons, the owner of the orphanage where Sam has lived since he was a baby, has been reluctant to let Sam leave the orphanage.
Unable to read the mind of Mr Lyons, he takes it upon himself to investigate the reasons behind the owner’s decisions and learn more about the origin of his ability, his parents and the potential of his power.
However, Sam’s investigation and mind-reading abilities reveal a power struggle at the top of a faltering orphanage between Mr. Lyons and his assistant Natalie.
Sam’s involvement in this conflict leads him to look for ways to save the orphanage and uncover the true motivations of both the owner and his assistant while trying to learn about his past.
Orphanages don’t seem to pop up in the books I read very often – unless a it’s a grim Dickensian version, that is – so it was a refreshing backdrop for a story. I had no idea what to expect from it really and by the end I knew I would never expect what I did get from it. That’s all the hints you will get plot wise as it is fun to discover where it branches off from your expectations.
From the outset there was plenty of character building and this foundation really allows the reader to get invested in the plot. All this does well to build up a fast paced story where what the characters do and think matters, leading to an ending where all the threads all come together in a pleasingly dramatic fashion.
Main protagonist Sam is a very mature thirteen year old, perhaps too mature for his age but owing to his circumstances, this is perhaps a case of me not understanding the emotional complexities of an orphan. Not that this was a negative point, it was refreshing to see kids with strong personalities having serious conversations without then resorting to lying about a hurting scar as one book series that-shall-not-be-named did so tiresomely.
The adults are an intriguing bunch too, each layered with different motivations, this is added to as we see them through the eyes of children which gives a different, more naive slant on them and their actions. The adults act as both adversaries and parents throughout which gives a further twist to the struggles that happen later on in the book. The need for the children to lean on authority figures and go against them sometimes creates a struggle which is always finely balanced.
The Lyons Orphanage is a well-paced romp with lots of moral questions to be had along the way, in fact when pondering this book last night after finishing it, I realised certain things that had happened, the implications of said acts were even grimmer on reflection. When I read the book I was eager to get on find out what revelations would be next and to see how it ended, part of the fun was speculating on the future after the story ended.
The part of the book that stood out for me the most though was all the intriguing details and hints dropped to the reader. I started speculating about the purposes of certain sentences really early on, hoping I was wrong about where the story could be going and thankfully I was spectacularly inaccurate which is what you want in a book.