The city of Jewel is a strange little place. Until the age of 16 all children are protected from every danger by being tethered by a small silver guardchain to their parents, their Guardian, or to their beds at night. Years ago, Jewel was overrun with plague and slavers and dangers of all sorts. The children were lost or dying at a rapid rate, and a group of adults set out to protect them. These adults would become the first Blessed Guardians. Despite the passing of time, and the safety of the city now, children are still chained until Separation Day. At the beginning of the book, the age of separation has been changed from 16 to 12, much to the disagreement of the Guardians. Goldie Roth couldn't be more excited. She is 12, and more eager than ever to be free from her chain. However, when the Separation ceremony is interrupted, and then cancelled, Goldie can't bear the thought of being chained again. So she runs away. As the Guardians search for her, and imprison her parents, Goldie finds refuge in the mysterious Museum of Dunt. There she meets the museum's keepers, who take her in and hide her from the Guardians. However, the Guardians do not relent in their search for Goldie, or the quest to unravel the mysterious of the Museum - a quest that could end up destroying the town.
This book is delightfully different and yet reminiscent of so many things I love. The museum's got just a touch of Hogwarts to it, and the town of Jewel offers up a perfect contrast. While the book does state that one must be a thief to be able to navigate the museum, it also goes a long way to avoid glamorizing theft. There's a lot to think about here too, such as to what length we should go to protect children and when they should be allowed to make their own mistakes. In Jewel the children were so protected that they had no ability to think for themselves or make a decision when faced with trouble.
I'm happy to find another kids' book that's not just for kids. Also eagerly awaiting the next book in this trilogy.