*Winner of the Blue Peter Book Award 2020*
After reading and loving Vashti’s debut novel, Brightstorm, it was with much anticipation and excitement that I awaited a copy of her newest adventure ‘WildSpark.’ A whole new world and its inhabitants awaited me.
Prue lives on a farm with her Ma and Pa, spending her time fixing the various machines and gadgets created by herself and her recently deceased older brother, Francis. The arrival of a mysterious stranger from the secretive Ghost Guild in the city of Medlock sets Prue on course for the biggest adventure of her life.
Posing as ‘Francis,’ Prue heads to Medlock as an apprentice to help the guild develop the animal-like machines they’ve designed which can capture and harness the energy of spirits, bringing the dead back to life. Determined to find and bring back Frances, Prue sets out to unlock the mysteries of qwortzite which harnesses the ‘wildspark’ to animate the animal personifates.
However, her mission to get the machines to remember their true selves sets her on a dangerous course which could threaten the very fabric of society.
Wow! What a read! Vashti has, again, she’s brilliantly created a world in which the reader can become totally immersed. A world like this one, but ever so slightly different and more wonderful. A world full of hoppity wrenches, Gigantrak locomotives and mahogany panelled walls. A world where people and mechanical personifates seem to co-exist fairly peacefully. But looks can be deceptive.
Through the use of deceased people’s souls to animate lifelike mechanical creatures, ‘Wildspark’ also raises several very interesting ethical questions about the wisdom of bringing loved ones back from the beyond, and whether these part-human personifates should be afforded the same rights as other humans.
The story also subtly champions the rights of women: referring to married couple as ‘Mrs and Mr’ not ‘Mr and Mrs,’ or having a young girl with a talent for engineering and mechanics head off on the adventure of a lifetime to train at the Imperial Personifate Guild Of Medlock rather than a boy. But these strong themes of STEM and empowerment will be familiar to anyone who has read her debut novel, ‘Brightstorm.’
This is an absolutely gripping read with humour, friendship, enemies and despair all mixed together to create a totally bewitching read. To hear Vashti chat to me about WildSpark and the exciting news of a second Brightstorm title, make sure you subscribe to my #LibraryGirlAndBookBoy podcast (available on most listening platforms) and download her brilliant episode.
* Huge thanks to the team at Scholastic for sending me this title to review*