The Wells Bequest: Cool Gadgets Don’t Make A Good Book

Note: I made a few more changes to the format, switched a few things, experimented with different ways to show passages. The next review might have some small things, too, but overall I like the changes I made and so this format is what I will be sticking with.

The Wells Bequest is written by Polly Shulman. It was published in 2013 by Penguin. It is the companion to The Grimm Legacy, which I reviewed here. Shulman’s website can be found here.

What I Liked:

The New-York Circulating Material Repository is back! Man, I wish there was actually a place like that. Magical objects aside, it just sounds like an awesome place!

I loved the references to the characters in The Grimm Legacy. Jaya is Anjali’s sister, and Marc shows up briefly. Elizabeth isn’t even mentioned by name at all, though, and I’m not even sure if she was “Aaron’s girlfriend” that they talked about. But, in any case, it was a nice callback to that book.

The time-traveling mechanic was interesting and fun. Shulman handled it well without making it too simple or complicated. I especially loved the way they got the time machine; not just the way Leo and Jaya acquired it but what caused them to go after it in the first place.

Cover Art

What I Didn’t Like:

This book was fun, sure, but it really suffered in my opinion from a lack of complexity; a boring, obvious, typical romance; an unbelievable villain; and a sense of self-indulgence. It wasn’t nearly as complicated as The Grimm Legacy was (forewarning: I haven’t read TGL in a while, so my sense of its plot is a little hazy and I could be completely wrong about its plot complexity). Everything was solved very quickly. The simple plot just made it seem like Shulman wrote it for fun because she wanted to write about time-travel. This isn’t a bad thing. But the book suffered because of it. This could have been a fantastic book if it had been more developed.

The romance was so predictable. Leo was the stereotypical goofy wise-cracking loner. Jaya…don’t even get me started on her. She was so annoying; I don’t think I’ve ever been as annoyed with a character for so long.

Simon was the most terrible antagonist ever. His motive, whatever it was, was silly and stupid. He had no development. He was a whiny brat, really. He also spent far too much time off-screen for being the villain. I spent most of the book thinking, “Seriously? This guy is supposed to be the antagonist? Really?”

Recommended Age Range: 14+

Rating: 3/5

Warnings: None.

Genre: Realistic, Science Fiction, Historical, Young Adult

Cover Art 2

Overall Review:

The Wells Bequest has potential, but the fact that it’s a fairly enjoyable read does nothing to hide the weak plot, the boring romance, and the annoying characters. It’s a very indulgent book, and it’s not nearly complex or original enough to mask or disguise that. It could have been great if it had a little more development put into it, but overall, it felt rushed, and there was nothing special about it.

You can buy this book here: The Wells Bequest: A Companion to The Grimm Legacy


“When a miniature time machine appears in Leo’s bedroom, he has no idea who the tiny, beautiful girl riding it is. But in the few moments before it vanishes, returning to wherever—and whenever—it came from, he recognizes the other tiny rider: himself!

His search for the time machine, the girl, and his fate leads him to the New-York Circulating Material Repository, a magical library that lends out objects instead of books. Hidden away in the repository basement is the Wells Bequest, a secret collection of powerful objects straight out of classic science-fiction novels: robots, rockets, submarines, a shrink ray—and one very famous time machine. And when Leo’s adventure of a lifetime suddenly turns deadly, he must journey to 1895 to warn real-life scientist Nikola Tesla about a dangerous invention. A race for time is on!”

~Inside Flap


I shook myself slightly. Come on, Leo, I told myself. It’s not an actual planet, just a picture. Why should stained-glass windows always show boring, terrestrial scenes? Why no dinosaurs and alien planets sometimes? And the horse looked pretty normal, anyway. Except for the toes.

I turned back to the horse and her foals. They were still there, frozen. But I was pretty sure the left-hand foal had had his head down, just a minute ago. Now he was looking right at me.

A shiver went straight through me, from my scalp to my own toes. This was crazy! Animals in stained glass windows don’t move. I had to have been mistaken. I had to.

~Shulman 21-22

“How will we go, then? Are there jet packs?”

Auntie Shanti shook her head. “I thought we would take the Épouvante.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“From Jules Verne’s Master of the World,” she explained. “In English, it’s the Terror.”

“That sounds ominous.”

“It’s not ominous, it’s awesome. It’s a land-air-sea sub-ship,” said Jaya.

~Shulman 139

Coming Up Next: Spellbinder by Helen Stringer

2 thoughts on “The Wells Bequest: Cool Gadgets Don’t Make A Good Book

  1. I like that you’ve put the excerpts in italics, but I miss having the blurb at the top. I read a lot of your reviews, but I haven’t read many of the books, so I like having the blurb up top to get a feel for the story before reading it. As always, I will take your opinions as Gospel truth on all books that I’m not emotionally attached to since middle school. 😀

    • Hmmm…yes, I can see how the blurb on top will be helpful for some people who might want to know what the book is about (that’s why I originally put it at the top). More tweaking will happen! I’ll put the blurb back on top next review and see how that looks. 🙂

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