Reader Reviewed The City of Secret Rivers by Jacob Sager Weinstein

The City of Secret Rivers

Written by Jacob Sager Weinstein
Part of the City of Secret Rivers Series

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

June 2017 Debut of the Month

In a nutshell: breath-taking magical adventure on the banks of London’s underground rivers

Hyacinth Hayward, newly arrived in the UK from the US, is already struggling with culture shock when her mum is kidnapped by the strangest postmen ever and she herself is plunged (literally) into extraordinary adventure. Amongst the mass of magical quest adventures, The City of Secret Rivers stands out and not just because of its cast of fascinating characters (unscrupulous sewer dwelling cockney criminals and a possibly malevolent but extremely polite giant pig included), or its singular setting (the banks of London’s underground rivers); the sheer invention and wit of author Jacob Sager Weinstein makes this a special read and every page crackles with originality and energy. Outlandish fun! ~ Andrea Reece

Readers looking for more page-turning adventures that cleverly combine real historical places with rip-roaring adventure will enjoy the Defender of the Realm series by Nick Ostler and Mark Huckerby.

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can read their full reviews by clicking here.

  • Ella O'Gorman, age 12 - 'An exhilarating magical adventure. Who would have thought that a story set in London's sewers would be such fun and completely riveting. It's packed with twists and turns and non-stop action.'
  • Toby Little, age 9 - 'I learnt quite a lot about London from the book, and I’ll look out for some of the places mentioned in the book, next time I’m visiting London.'
  • Aoibhe Churcher, age 11 - 'The book was extremely enjoyable! It was exciting, funny,intriguing and action packed. I almost read the book in one day!!!'
  • Olivia Shaw, age 11 - 'The City of Secret Rivers is an amazing book that will leave you wondering who Hyacinth can trust…Hilarious, gripping and adventurous all in one, it ends with an impossible mystery'
  • Trinity Sadler, age 13 - 'This book is an enthralling tale where fantasy meets adventure.'
  • Elizabeth Bridgeman, age 9 - 'The City of Secret Rivers is an extraordinary book...This is a definite favorite of mine and of course an epic 5 stars.'
  • Isaac East, age 11 - 'This book is packed with action, adventure and a hint of comedy it is an amazingly easy read...I would recommend this book to people who are adventure and half reality lovers.'


The City of Secret Rivers by 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?


Readers must willingly suspend belief to follow Weinstein's engaging, fast-paced fantasy, but he makes it worth their while. It's a wild ride that's fun, freaky, outlandish, and suspenseful. Readers will beg for another installment. Booklist

This setup can't help leading to a rollicking adventure with a lulu of an ending that comes with the promise of a sequel. Middle graders will adore clever Hyacinth and enjoy the other humorous characters, the puns (Oaroboarus, indeed), and the suspenseful narrative. Kirkus Reviews

With plot twists and potty humor galore, this is an entertaining read-aloud that should keep even reluctant readers engaged. VERDICT

Fans of Suzanne Collins's The Underland Chronicles and Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams's Tunnels series will enjoy this fantastic, funny adventure. School Library Journal

About the Author

Jacob Sager Weinstein

Jacob Sager Weinstein is the author of four non-fiction books for adults and has written for The New Yorker, HBO and the BBC. He is also a former contributor to The Onion and has won a Writers' Guild of America Award. The idea for City of Secret Rivers came to Jacob while walking along the Thames Embankment, as he started thinking about London's secret underground rivers and discovered that London's history is so magical that it only takes the slightest of tweaks to make it into a fantasy story. He lives in London with his wife and two children.

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Book Info


352 pages


Jacob Sager Weinstein
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Walker Books Ltd

Publication date

1st June 2017




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