#587 – Colt Humboldt and the Close of Death by T. A. Anderson


Colt Humboldt and the Close of Death

by T. A. Andersontop-10-use-eb-trans (1)

published by T. A. Anderson       2/4/2014


Age 9 to 13             460 pages


“When twelve-year-old Colt Humboldt’s dad drags the two of them from perfectly good Dallas to ancient Edinburgh for a “fresh start,” Colt knows he’s in for a long, boring summer. Fat chance. That very first night, the peculiar Alesone and her little brother Peer crawl out of Colt’s closet, begging for his help to save their family from a horrible fate. Unfortunately, the instructions for doing so are contained in a fickle book that likes to make it up as it goes. Worse, those instructions give this ragged trio one week to journey across Scotland in a impossible adventure to capture three treasures—treasures fiercely protected by a hidden, treacherous world determined to see Colt fail . . . preferably by death. But if Colt and his new friends can survive a horror novel come-to-life, a madman and his minions, a disagreeable folklore legend, and the shocking discovery of just why Alesone and Peter are so odd . . . Well, the next two treasures won’t come so easily.”


“The flight attendant standing along the curb resembled a ripe blueberry volcano about to blow its top, thought 12-year-old Colt Humboldt from the backseat of the taxi. Her head-to-toe blue uniform appeared dangerously close to its design limits, with a blue cap squeezed over short blonde curls and three very prominent chins squeezing out of her collar.”


Not long after Colt’s mother died in a tragic automobile accident—which Colt survived—his dad accepts a position at the Edinburgh Zoo. Colt is not happy about moving from Dallas to Scotland. He chooses The Keepers room for his bedroom, not knowing the room’s history. This begins the history kids will learn about while reading the book. There are many pieces of knowledge inside the story, the biggest being the black plague that wiped out many in Europe.

What Colt thinks are ghosts awakens him the first night. These “ghosts” are actually two kids from the year 1645. Alesone and her five-year-old brother Peter are running from the soldiers who want them back into the close in which the government has trapped all the inhabitants, thinking it will stop the black plague. The two kids are after a cure for their parents. To get the cure and passage back to their own time period, they must complete three missions, which get progressively harder and more dangerous. Colt agrees to help them. He is smitten on Alesone and bored without his friends.

Peter, Alesone & Colt

Peter, Alesone & Colt

Throughout the story, Colt must explain items that are commonplace in the twenty-first century, but unheard of in the 1600’s. Many appear to be magic to the two kids. Peter has a habit of smashing things he does not understand, like alarm clocks and television sets. Five-year-old Peter experiences his first sugar high after a breakfast of Frosted Flakes™. He loves the cereal so much he sneaks a box home with him. Sugar highs are not common in the 1600’s as they are now. Peter also likes Colt’s Dallas Cowboys helmet, which took an arrow, saving the boy’s life on one journey.

Peter is an interesting character. He never utters a word, is very resilient, and handy in some of the sticky situations the three kids get into. Pretty good for a five-year-old out of his element. Peter also supplies much of the humor. I did think it odd that Alesone, a bright girl, is oblivious to the changes from her world to Colt’s. It takes her quite a while to accept that she is not in her 1645 world, as she continues to search for a pastor from 1645 and runs from/is afraid of the present day police who have no interest in Alesone or Peter.

Kids who like adventures with fantasy and humor mixed in will love Colt Humboldt. I read the 445 pages in two sittings, staying up late at night. If I were a kid, I would have taken a flashlight to bed just to keep reading the book. I love the characters. They are easy to care about and actually fun to root on as they continue searching for the three items needed to send Alesone and Peter back home. Nothing is what it seems on these journeys. Some of the secondary characters suddenly pop up, instantly twisting the story. Colt Humboldt is not difficult to understand or keep track of these twists and turns, but one does need to pay attention.

New Image

Much of the humor comes from Alesone and Peter being out of place in Colt’s world. He has no idea why they are so surprised by much of what they encounter, not knowing for a long time where the two kids have come from. All he knows is their parents will die if they do not collect the three treasures the Brown Man requires. The Brown Man of the Muirs (folklore) is but one of the folklore and creatures of Scotland legends included in the story. The true villain will be quite a surprise. Though the big villain in Alesone’s world, Mr. Vermyne, is rather easy to discover, given his name. He is a rat all right. Vermyne is one of those twists that will surprise you, yet make sense.

Mr. Anderson’s writing is excellent. Colt Humboldt and the Close of Death is the first of a series of adventures involving Colt. I am anxious to read the next volume. I love the way Anderson told Colt’s first story, though he could have made this into two or three books. A nearly 500-page book, with multitudes of folklore creatures, can look rather daunting to some middle graders.

The pacing is great and the adventures are believable, though the last mission is a tough fight. Kids are in for a wonderful ride. A publisher would be very smart to get Anderson under contract. Colt Humboldt, with some high-powered marketing, and focused publicity should take flight right onto the bestseller list where it belongs. It is that good. Colt Humboldt is also T. A. Anderson’s debut middle grade novel.


COLT HUMBOLDT AND THE CLOSE OF DEATH. Text copyright © 2014 by T. A. Anderson. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, T. A. Anderson.

Buy Colt Humboldt and the Close of Death at AmazonB&NBook DepositorySmashwordsKoboAuthor’s websiteyour local bookstore.


Learn more about Colt Humboldt and the Close of Death HERE.

Meet the author, T. A. Anderson, at his website:  http://taandersonauthor.wordpress.com/


*If you only read one adventure/fantasy this year, make it Colt Humboldt and the Close of Death. It is the best of 2014 thus far. Sure, that’s just my opinion and there are still several months left to find something better. We won’t.



colt humboldt 1


29 thoughts on “#587 – Colt Humboldt and the Close of Death by T. A. Anderson

  1. Thank you! That’s so nice of you to say and that you even checked out my blog 🙂 I appreciate that!
    And I like the thought that the dog is laughing at a joke he remembered. Great imagination you obviously have! So it seems to me Sue’s opinion is accurate 😀

    Did Daniel do interior illustration of any kind?


    • It would have been nice to have a sketch to open each chapter, and Daniel would have nailed it. But nope, no interior illustrations. The sketches Sue interspersed in her review are the back cover showing Edinburgh (I have no idea of the technique Daniel used to produce it, but it came out far nicer than my book deserved) and a study Daniel did as he was trying to figure out the characters, which I inserted on the last page of the book.


      • Thank you for explaining what the other art is that Sue posted. I love seeing artist’s sketches from when they’re fleshing out the illustrations. Yes, I love vignettes for each chapter, too, but I’m sure it would’ve really brought up your publishing expenses!


    • Were you actually doubting my opinion? Heresay! Poppycock! Hogwash! “It seems to you my opinion is accurate?” Why thank you for agreeing, you silly artist, illustrating nitwit, has the paint gone to your head? Why I never . . . had . . so . . . much . . . fun . . . with a reader as I do with you. Thanks for agreeing. I know you were unsure with the black plague and Mary King’s Close, and all the folklore and legends, and . . . OH, MY!, why did I like this? Maybe I reviewed the wrong book? Maybe Erik is right, Colt is a girl and it is a different story I am reviewing, but the wrong title, author, themes, cover, pictures. Nah, never happens, not with a 5000-page book. Those are hard to get confused. Phew! 😀


  2. The guy that scribbled the book here. I want to thank Kid Lit Reviews for taken the time and effort to take a look at the jumble of words I tossed down on paper. This is one of the few review sites I keep an eye on (I see you up there, This Kid Reviews Books, to name another), so it truly is an honor to put my little book through Sue Morris’s grinder and see what popped out. I can only assume she was in an exceedingly excellent mood as she chose to look the other way over foibles her laser eye usually astutely picks up. Timing is everything, I suppose, and I was lucky in my timing.

    Sue invited me to reply to any comments (thank God a couple came in – I thought my book might have broken her blog), but I’ll keep it short. Don’t want to be pest and overstay her kind welcome. Again, thank you, Sue.


    • You most definitely did NOT overstay your welcome. I wish MORE authors and illustrators would be that responsive 😀 Thank you! And you’re right about Sue and Erik (but don’t tell them I said so!) 😀


    • ” look the other way” Sorry to disappoint you Mr. T. A. Anderson, but if you read the review closely (not many do, as I make them too long even when I try my best not to) but I did have some disparaging words for you.

      To wit: “I did think it odd that Alesone, a bright girl, is oblivious to the changes from her world to Colt’s. It takes her quite a while to accept that she is not in her 1645 world, as she continues to search for a pastor from 1645 and runs from/is afraid of the present day police who have no interest in Alesone or Peter . . .though he could have made this into three books. A nearly 500-page book, with multitudes of folklore creatures, can look rather daunting to some middle graders.”

      What else did I miss? Hm, your writing is excellent, the characters have . . . wait, I am not rewriting the review here. I believe I was only paid for one. If you want a second review, send a second book–like book 2! 🙂

      Yes, I was in a good mood when writing your review, but I always am when the review is positive. I don’t know what you think I missed, mister, but I miss nothing (usually), so hush up or your next review will be a list of uh-oh’s. Apology accepted (yes, I can hear authors blubber sometimes, too–when it is not me blubbering). You did good. Accept it! 🙂


      • Those were actual disparaging words for me? I assumed that when facing perfection, you created a red herring so as to avoid the perception of your falling under the thrall of pristine, beautifully arranged words, or worse, becoming a softie. How else to explain the obvious gaffe in your judgment?

        (This was not written with any seriousness at all. But since I don’t know how to add the laughing face emoticon, best play it safe and be obvious.)

        I completely agree with the daunting nature of a nearly 500 page book with a ton of characters. My excuse is that I kinda like the gauntlet laid down by J K Rowling and grabbing the challenge of making an oversize helping go down smoothly. (Maybe it’s a good thing I don’t know how to use the emoticons, or else I would have added the martini glass – which would be completely inappropriate when discussing things going down smoothly for kids. Kids – DO NOT DRINK!)


        • This whole thread of comments has REALLY been enjoyable 😀 Just sayin’!

          And T.A., for the simple ones (which are all I know!) for the regular smiley type a : then a ) and you’ll get 🙂 If you want a BIG smile, type : then D and you’ll get 😀 and if you want a wink, type ; and ) and you’ll get 😉

          I just looked to see if there was something you could refer to and found this (which is something I think I’ll print out in case I ever want to make use of the ones beyond those first basic ones (at the top) I use:



            • The easiest thing to do is look up in my navigation bar and open up New Markdowns and Similes. ALL of the emoticons, including the secret ones are listed with instructions on how to make each one. Donna – I cannot believe you are sending people away from KLR with that horrid link when the information is already here. I thought we were friends. I’m sad now. 😦

              For T. A. 🍸


        • I think Jk Rowling’s first book was of normal size and then got larger with each successive book. Which means, at your rate, you will write many more words than Ms. Rowling. Not that it is a contest, is it? A smile guy is simply a colon and a left parenthesis. : ) (but one after the other. To wink change the colon to a semi-colon. If not a martini 🍸 how about a white russian? |_| And maybe a burrito to go with the drink? 🌯 All of these are under New Markdowns on the navigation bar above (or below the header). 😀


          • You’re absolutely right about JK Rowling’s books. If I remember right, the first two were around 80,000, give or take 5,000. The third – Prisoner of Azkaban – clocked in somewhere under 110,000, which is close to where mine is. But since I’m only writing five books, rather than seven, I’ve got to pack more words in less books. Which is why I’ll now be using very wide margins and tiny fonts.

            I think I’ve got it: (|_| + >-I) x 2 = o_o


    • Yikes. I’ll have to take a look at that for future editions. Colt’s got enough insecurities without being mistaken for a girl. By the way, like Kid Lit Reviews, you run a great blog.


    • “Amazing Precocious Erik,” I don’t agree with you–for once. I don’t think Colt ever made me think he was a girl, not from word one. Please let me know what you read that made you think this. What did I miss? ❓


      • It wasn’t anything you wrote – it was the opening lines from the book, then I went back and re-read it and the “she” it’s talking about is the flight attendant not Colt – SHEESH talk about misreading something! 😉 You writing and reviewing is as awesome as ever! 😀


        • Thank you Erik — right back at you, double speed! 😀 I thought maybe I missed something. Glad I didn’t, but I misread stuff all the time and have to go back because it didn’t make sense. You read so much that you will make those mistakes more than most. But, you double check, which is cool. 🙂 I see you are expanding and going into sponsoring a reading with you book as a freebie. That’s cool. I hope lots of kids send in reviews and pictures.


  3. This cover made me think it was on the scary side and not necessarily humorous, but the artwork is beautifully done 🙂 And you saying you would’ve stayed up with a flashlight as a kid to read this–high praise. TWO sittings for 445? Can’t help but not be curious about THIS one! Thanks, Sue 🙂


    • I loved this story and part of it is true or based on the true happenings involving the black plague and the closing of Mary King’s Close. It isolated all the people that lived in that close, closed off from the world, and sent to certain death by black plague. What happened there is the biggest scare in the book.


    • I see from your website that you’re no slouch when it comes to art. My artist was Daniel Johnson from Boston, and he was great to work with. As far as humor, I probably should have lightened it up a bit, though I think the green dog looks like he’s laughing at a joke he just remembered from the night before.


      • My website has loads of art but only one or two I can personally take credit for creating. I think they are lost else I’d give you a link. 🙂 Oh, you me Donna’s website. Yeah, she can draw, big deal. 😀 (Actually, she is a darn good artist, but kinda shy about it). I loved the humor. It was never forced.


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