I'm looking for the title of this book I read, at least 10 years ago. It had a siblings escaping London during WW2 and instead of reaching the countryside they enter this odd alternate reality. In this reality the people there decide to take care of these kids, and they have some sort of credit belt system.

I remember a few specific details, one of their new friends loves butter pies, and steals one of the characters credits, and then gets pretty sick when he eats his way through dozens of them.

The plot revolved around some sort of caskets, arranged in some sort of order, silver, gold, and lead. I don't entirely recall what happened, but they locate these caskets? or egg things? but near the end there is a scene where the bad guy who has been collecting these devices is walking towards a big clock, and the kids are trying to restrain him somehow. If he succeeds then the city will be destroyed etc. Obviously the kids save the day. I don't remember if they make it back to their own universe afterwards. I believe it was a standalone book

  • 5
    The general idea is very similar to The Chronicles of Narnia but I haven't read enough of the books to know the internal story line if this fits at all.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 14:15
  • Thanks for trimming the question. It does sound similar, and the author may have been inspired by it, but I believe this was a standalone book.
    – Zev
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 14:17
  • 25
    The only similarly to Narnia is the escape from London during the Second World War and alternate reality. Narnia had talking animals and Turkish Delight, not credit belts and butter pies.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 14:21
  • Most likely a duplicate of scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/27326/… and scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/120880/…
    – Jontia
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 15:27
  • It's somewhat reminiscent of Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice
    – Strawberry
    Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 12:25

2 Answers 2


This sounds very much like A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones. The alternate reality is Time City, a city outside of time, where the inhabitants wear pajama like jump suits and use credits carried on belts.

“I’m paying,” said Jonathan, and recited a string of numbers. “Yes, but are you in credit?” said the waitress. “Show.” Jonathan pressed one of the buttons on his belt and held his hand out with a row of signs shining on his palm. The waitress looked, nodded, and pressed buttons on the pink matching belt round her pajamas

The core of the plot involves the collection of the four caskets; Iron, Silver, Gold and Lead which are hidden throughout time in different eras. These Eras are classed as either stable or unstable based on how much effect on the timeline a visitor there can have.

The Caskets are egg shaped devices that allow the holder to time travel and do various unspecified manipulation of the world around them. The quintessential magic box.

The main characters are Jonathan and Sam (from Time City) and Vivian a WWII evacuee from London. Sam is a big fan of Butter Pies. The Time City inhabitants refer to a century as "Twenty Century" rather than "Twentieth Century". Which Vivian has to keep reminding herself of, to avoid giving away the fact she's from somewhere else.

The climatic scene involves an attempt to stop people who have stolen some of the caskets from leaving the city via the "Departure booths" using another of the caskets.

Important events within Time City create "Time Ghosts" and can be seen repeating over and over before they actually happen. So the same scene gets discussed from a couple of different viewpoints within the book.


Sounds like the Gideon Trilogy to me.

  • 6
    Could you edit to explain why you believe this matches the description in question?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 20:34

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