‘Darkwhispers,’ by Vashti Hardy, cover by George Ermos.

Welcome to 2020, everyone! I am exc yes to share more of the bookish delights you can expect to not over the coming year. If you still have book tokens burning a hole in your pocket, I would highly recommended my last read of 2019 and my first review of the new decade: Darkwhispers.

Ever since Book Boy and I read the final pages of Hardy’s Brightstorm, we have been desperate to find out what was in store next for the courageous crew. The rather wonderful Wildspark helped us bridge the gap, but there was much excitement (and squabbling over who’d read it first) when Darkwhispers and my official Aurora crew mug arrived in the post. Naturally, I was the lucky one who got first read!

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Following their perilous journey across The Great Wide, twins Arthur and Maudie have embraced life as part of the Aurora crew and are living with airship captain and intrepid explorer Harriet Culpepper. Maudie is busy working on a top secret invention she hopes will earn her a place at a top universitas whilst Arthur’s being tutored by Welby in the finer points of mapping, navigation and route planning.

After witnessing what they’re sure is a burglary, the twins are rightly suspicious when the ambitious and calculating Eudora Vane calls upon fellow explorers to join her in a mission to search for missing adventurer, Ermitage Wrigglesworth – the very person whose house she’d had burgled. Harriet and the crew join the expedition to the Eastern Isles in the hopes of discovering what Eudora’s really up to.

But these islands don’t want to found and are protected by means unimaginable. Will the Aurora crew make it through alive? Or will the islands’ secrets remain hidden?

As soon as I began reading, I was whisked back into Lontown with its grand houses and filthy slums. I was right back with the twins – full of curiosity and raring for a new adventure. The beautiful fold-out map at the front of the book (by Jamie Gregory) helps reorientate readers within the world of the story.

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What followed, was a rollercoaster ride of emotions which didn’t let up until the very final pages of the story. I chuckled, I cried, and I gasped with surprise. Darkwhispers, as with Brightstorm, is not afraid to explore the full range of human emotion and does so with a lightness of touch entirely appropriate to a children’s book. But I warn you, you may need some tissues towards the end.

As always, the vast scope of Hardy’s imagination is on full display with the myriad of wonderful creations and inventions she’s conjured. I can vividly imagine the city created using eco-friendly tech, and the dense, dark humidity of the jungle.

A brilliant read for anyone aged 9+

Library Girl.

*Thank you to Scholastic for sending me this title to review*

 

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