Review – Mortal Combat: Time’s Running Out

What do Adolf Hitler, HG Wells, Leonardo da Vinci, Genghis Khan and dinosaurs have in common? They all find themselves in a rather precarious situation in this hoot of a book from the masterful Martin Chatterton.

Mortimer DeVere and his sister Agnetha are 10,000 years old. Residents of Unk Island, the duo are tasked with some serious fast-forward living, not to mention the coolest capability of returning to the past in Retro, their time-travelling machine.

In this sequel to Mort, our young heroes find themselves stranded in the midst of World War II, along with Trish Molyneux and her assistant Nigel from the Unk Shire Education Department (who are both intent on dragging Mort and his sister back into the schooling system). Confronted by machine-gun wielding Nazis, the team are aghast to find themselves facing a divinely camped-up version of Adolph Hitler.

When Hitler insists on taking a ride in Retro, no one could have predicted the time-machine would end up in dino territory – let alone the most gruesome fate that unfolds for the notorious Nazi leader. Let’s just say the dinosaurs are hungry! But what does this mean for the linear properties of time?

Kids will delight in the chaos that ensues from Mort’s ‘messing with the past’.

I love the clever combination of fiction and history Martin Chatterton uses in this hilarious series of books for kids aged 8 – 12. The author uses a fine balance of action that would suit both girl and boy readers (naturally, Agnetha is the smart, rational one who ends up saving the day) and I simply adore his ‘voice’ and witty use of dialogue and kooky settings.

The author’s fabulous ink drawings add priceless visuals to the storyline, and only add to the dry humour.

Mortal Combat: Time’s Running Out is published by Random House.


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Tania McCartney

Tania McCartney is an author of children's books and adult non-fiction. Recent books include Riley and the Grumpy Wombat: A journey around Melbourne, and Australian Story: An Illustrated Timeline. She's also an editor, publisher and founder of Kids Book Review.