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Secrets of the Dragon Tomb

(Secrets of the Dragon Tomb #1)

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  174 ratings  ·  61 reviews
Mars in 1816 is a world of high society, deadly danger, and strange clockwork machines.

Twelve-year-old Edward Sullivan wants to become a spy like the ones he reads about in his favorite magazine, Thrilling Martian Tales, but he’s far too busy keeping his eccentric family from disaster. All of that is about to change. In the north, great dragon tombs hide marvels of Ancient
Hardcover, 322 pages
Published January 12th 2016 by Henry Holt and Company, LLC
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Average rating 4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  174 ratings  ·  61 reviews

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I absolutely adore this novel. It's a fabulous MG adventure full of pterodactyls, clockwork crabs, and a wonderful, squabbling, eccentric family, all set on Regency-era Mars. LOVE! And while I admit that, being married to the author, it's hard for me to sound unbiased - well, I'd also just like to point out that when Patrick and I first met at the Clarion West writing workshop, I fell in love with his writing even before I fell in love with him. I would be a huge fan of this book even if I ...more
Patrick Samphire
Oct 30, 2014 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
The Emperor of Mars, the sequel to SECRETS OF THE DRAGON TOMB is now also up on Goodreads. Add it here!

A bit weird to review my own book, so here are the "trade" reviews:

"Abundant humor, intricate worldbuilding details, and precisely timed slapstick and mayhem mesh as neatly as the gears and levers of the water abacus, producing a gorgeously articulated clockwork of a novel."

– Publishers Weekly (Starred review)

"This classic boys’ adventure on Mars has dastardly villains, dizzying feats of
Bridget Hodder
Nov 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
I received an ARC of this book when I was supposed to be packing for a journey. I was expected to honestly review the book (which is what an advance copy is for, of course), and I feared that if I started it, I wouldn't be able to finish before leaving the next day.

Uh. Wrong.

I'm sitting here staring at THE END like an empty bucket of popcorn. How did that happen?

Patrick Samphire's utterly new take on a Martian Chronicle puts us on the red planet with young Edward Sullivan and his wacky British
Monica Tesler
Jul 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was fortunate to read an advanced copy of SECRETS OF THE DRAGON TOMB by Patrick Samphire, an amazing and inventive adventure that takes place in a thrilling world I will be thinking about long after reading the last pages. The story takes place on Mars, but it’s not a Mars like we know. There are dinosaurs, clockwork servants, and Zeplins soaring through the sky. Against this exciting backdrop, twelve-year-old Edward dreams of having adventures like the ones he reads about. When a family ...more
Sarah Glenn Marsh
Aug 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to read an ARC of SECRETS OF THE DRAGON TOMB, and I'd recommend this book for anyone who likes: Mars. Dinosaurs. Robots. Action and thrilling heroics. Smart girls and smart boys working together.

There's so much mystery, action, and so many fascinating creatures in these pages that it's a hard book to put down. Edward's adventure as he tries to save his family is even more thrilling than the ones he likes to read about, and you'll probably find yourself reading this from cover
Victoria Coe
Feb 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received an advance readers copy of Secrets of the Dragon Tomb in exchange for an honest review. And honestly, I absolutely LOVED this book! Here's why:

1) It's hilarious! I had to pause my reading many, many times because I couldn't stop laughing out loud. Think Jane Austen meets Monty Python. Enough said.

2) It's thrilling! The plot is fast-paced and mysterious, full of action and twists and turns and surprises, as the characters pursue a goal that's high stakes and personal for all of them.

Lois Sepahban
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky to receive an advanced copy of SECRETS OF THE DRAGON TOMB. This is one of those rare books that truly does have something for everyone--action, adventure, and even a bit of romance. The setting is so much fun--Mars, 1816! And the world building is amazing. There's a little bit of science fiction, a little bit of history, a little bit of steampunk--and together, they make for a really hard-to-put-down story.

The main character, 12-year-old Edward, is one of the coolest kids ever.
Lee Malone
Dec 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In this wildly inventive middle grade novel, Samphire defies many science fiction tropes and cliches to created a world on Mars filled with dinosaurs, strange bugs, and ancient clockwork technologies and populated with Victorian-era characters worthy of P.G. Wodehouse and Jane Austen. An unforgettable page-turner.

(I received an ARC of this book in exchange for a honest review)
Kali Wallace
Jan 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love to read adventurous sci fi & fantasy in part because I love to imagine visiting amazing, impossible places, but I am not even kidding when I say I am REALLY VERY ANGRY that I cannot visit the Victorian-era pterodactyl-infested steampunk Mars that Patrick Samphire has imagined in this book.

I want to see all of it! The deserts and wastelands and museums and garden parties and airships! This is SUCH an imaginative book, full of so many things that are 100% pure joy and adventure and
Sarah Ahiers
Aug 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I got to read an arc of this book and it was a super fun, steampunk adventure!

Secret of the Dragon Tomb is a story about Edward who wants more than anything to be a spy like the hero of his favorite magazine. Instead he's stuck taking care of his family, which includes a precocious younger sister, two older sisters trying to fit into society, a mother who really only favors his oldest sister and a father who pays him hardly any mind. Throw in an idiot cousin and Edward is almost always
Jonah Lisa Dyer
Jan 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a super fun Victorian historical fiction, sci-fi, adventure mash-up. Like Jules Verne meets Monty Python for space...with dinosaurs. Seriously, doesn't that sound like a romp? Well, it is. Plus, Patrick Samphire has a blistering sense of humor. Best recommendation I can give...I'm passing it on to my 10 year old son knowing I will get mad mom props when he devours and loves it.
Erin Kelly
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful, fun, imaginative, steampunky ... perfect for MG, but can be enjoyed by all ages. Highly recommend!
Sep 24, 2015 added it
I read this one to my 10-year-old son, who goes by Jackson on the internet. So I invited him to help me review it. My questions are in bold, followed by his responses.

In your words, what is this book about?

The book is about the family, and the father is an inventor. At the beginning of the book, they run into their cousin Freddie who stole a map to a secret dragon tomb which is a tomb of the ancient Martian emperors. By the way, this is all on Mars, and it’s set in an alternate past, not an
Sep 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

When Edward's parents are kidnapped for his Father's genius invention, he and his sisters, along with their mysterious cousin race across Mars (yep, the planet) to save them. Simply put, this book is hilarious! And I had to keep stealing it back from my 11-year-old who sneaked it away whenever I set it down. The characters are outrageous, individual, and so much fun. The author's quick wit will keep you laughing even when the
Jenny Moyer
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Secrets of the Dragon Tomb is a thrilling MG adventure! Samphire created a world and characters unlike any I've read before. Set in a unique world (Regency-era British Mars!) it has something for everyone: clockwork creatures, dinosaurs, dragons, airships--a wonderful steampunk/sci-fi mash up infused with witty humor and delightful, fresh characters.

This story reminded me a bit of an "Indiana Jones" adventure, but with kids as the
Wendy MacKnight
Dec 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016-reads
I was in love with this book from the very first scene! Edward is your normal run of the mill human boy living on Mars, trying to survive his sisters and the arrival of annoying Cousin Freddie, who is harbouring a secret that may or may not have to do with the work of Edward's father. This is world building at its finest, part sci-fi book, part historical fiction, part adventure series and part fantasy, I was enthralled the entire way and cannot wait to read the second!
Mike Grosso
Jan 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a debut! I expected an exciting story, and I also got a hilarious, witty one. Impressive world-building and lovable characters!
Brandy Painter
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

Secrets of the Dragon Tomb by Patrick Samphire is a Napoleonic war spy adventure on Mars that includes pterodactyls and dragon corpses. As nonsensical as that may sound, it all works together perfectly and is so much fun. I added this book to my TBR originally because I'm a big fan of the author's wife, Stephanie Burgis, and I also consider her a friend. But my love for this book was won all on its own merits. This is just so much my
When his parents are kidnapped, it's up to Freddie (and his idiot cousin (and his mad scientist younger sister (and his deeply sensible older sister))) to save the day. But nothing and no-one are what they seem.

This is a rollicking adventure with an incredibly fun world. I cannot overstate the incredible funness of this world. Oh my goodness. Hunter-Stalker Tripods! Mummified long-dead dragons! Clockwork butlers! (I will remember you, butler.) Plants that want to eat you! Ships that SAIL THROUGH
Claire Fayers
Dec 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellently entertaining adventure in the tradition of all the best adventure yarns. 12 year old Edward Sullivan is the self-appointed guardian of his incompetent family, but when his parents are kidnapped, Edward has to rely on the help of his two sisters and his ludicrous cousin Freddie to launch a rescue.

Villainous plots are made and thwarted, derring is done, and our heroes dangle from great heights and are hit with blunt objects at most satisfactory intervals. The Martian setting
Kathleen Glasgow
Feb 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read SECRETS OF THE DRAGON TOMB with my 7-y-o son, who could not have enjoyed it more. Rollicking adventure, some seriously wonderful world-building, and some excellent characterization made this book a keeper--we can't wait for #2. From an adult perspective--whoa. This is a super book to read to or with your middle-graders. Adults will remain engaged and charmed by Samphire's wit and attention to detail and plot. Not a dull moment. A pleasure.
I really loved this MG book, which felt rather like Philip Reeve's Larklight with all the fun adventure and more real feeling to the family cast. Made me wish for a younger friend (like, actually young, as opposed to just younger!) to hand it to, *after* I'd finished enjoying it. Can't wait for the next one.
Erin Petti
Dec 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Secrets of the Dragon Tomb crackles with imagination. I was immediately drawn into the world of British Mars and Samphire's lively cast of characters. This is a great, wonderfully inventive adventure.
Sandra Waugh
Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A grand, exciting (and charming), steam punk adventure!
Kathy Martin
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Edward Sullivan has always dreamed of being a spy. He relies on Thrilling Martian Tales to give him ideas. But, at twelve-years-old, he finds himself busy taking care of his inventor father and society-obsessed mother and dealing with his two older and one younger sister as their self-appointed guardian. When Cousin Freddie turns up, things start to get exciting.

Mama is busy organizing a garden party to introduce the oldest daughter Jane to society and Papa is busy working on his latest
Andrew Brumbach
Mar 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
You can’t read Secrets of the Dragon Tomb without feeling a twinge of longing to visit the world that it depicts. Not sure there is really any higher praise for a book than that. The Martian setting Samphire has created is endlessly inventive and fascinating. I found myself lost in the pages, and just as absorbed by the flora and fauna and gadgets as I was by the plucky young heroes and dastardly villains. The ending was wholly satisfying, but offers the tantalizing possibility of further ...more
A quirky middle grade adventure set in regency-era MARS. I absolutely adored this story. The entire time I was reading I kept thinking about how much my kids would love this book. Can't wait to read the next one!
Jan 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 0-books-i-own
So I don't normally buy a book brand-spanking new without reading the advanced reviews and/or without having read it myself (unless it's recommended to me by my friend Lorien, because I trust her judgment regarding what she thinks is good; we disagree on what's bad/unenjoyable, but if she says something is good, I believe her). But I read the summary for this and absolutely fell in love. I knew I had to have it because it hit so many of my "omg" points: Mars, the Regency Era (think Pride & ...more
Mar 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Kids (and adults) who love adventure stories.
This was a fun adventure story and I really enjoyed it. Sure, it's marketed to the middle-grade kid and I'm an over-40 adult, but I still had fun reading it. :-)

The story is told by Edward Sullivan, a 12-year-old boy with three sisters. Two are older (Jane and Olivia/Livvy), and one is younger (Parthenia/Putty). They live on Mars (!!!), where Edward dreams of one day becoming a spy. But when his parents and eldest sister are kidnapped, Edward learns that being a spy is rather more complicated
Rosalyn Eves
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
don't read as much middle grade as I should, with a 10 year old reader at home who devours books, but I couldn't pass up a chance to read Patrick Samphire's delightful middle grade sci-fi (though really, it reads as much fantasy as sci-fi). It's a bit Jules Verne crossed with Regency period pieces: Twelve-year-old Edward Sullivan lives with his very British family (including his slightly mad-scientist father and his society-obsessed mother) on a British colony in 1816 Mars. In this alternate ...more
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Patrick Samphire is the author of the appallingly exciting and funny middle grade adventure novels, SECRETS OF THE DRAGON TOMB and THE EMPEROR OF MARS, as well as a bunch of short stories for adults and teenagers.

Patrick has been writing stories since he was fourteen years old and thought it would be a good way of avoiding having to sit through English lessons at school. He was absolutely

Other books in the series

Secrets of the Dragon Tomb (2 books)
  • The Emperor of Mars (Secrets of the Dragon Tomb, #2)