Having previously read ‘Darwin’s Dragons’ (also by Galvin), I was eagerly awaiting the publication of her next book, hoping for more fast-paced historical action with heart and humour. That is exactly what I got!
Twelve-year-old Vinnie Fyfe works in the tea-shop at Brighton aquarium, and waits for her milliner mother to return from Paris.
The arrival of a giant octopus changes her life for ever. Discovering a talent for art, Vinnie begins to draw the extraordinary beast.
She soon realises she can communicate with the octopus through colour and – as a gripping mystery begins to unfold – discovers what true courage really means …
I very quickly got sucked into Vinnie’s world of high society, millinery, and keeping up appearances. Her evolution from a very proper, very sheltered young lady to a much freer, happier version of herself following her move to Brighton was wonderful. The sea air was definitely a tonic!
I also learnt a lot about Victorian lives whilst reading this book – the craze for aquariums and fantastical deep sea creatures, the horrific practices which sprung up during the industrial revolution, the taking of the sea and and being wheeled into the sea in bathing huts… So many interesting snippets of information interwoven into a thrilling mystery with a villainous baddy, deceptions, and the most amazing cephalopod!
Another design feature which I think readers will really love are the pages featuring Vinnie’s sketches, newspaper articles, and beautiful illustrations around the edges of the pages. They add real depth and interest to the story.
Anyone who is looking for a totally absorbing, historical mystery with a very special friendship at its heart, is going to love this! 9+
Information book pairing:
As I was reading, I was instantly reminded of this title in Owen Davey’s stunning series of animal information books. If you’ve not read any of them, you need to get hold one now!
‘Obsessive About Octopuses’ by Owen Davey would perfectly compliment Galvin’s brilliant story. Gorgeous illustrations, fascinating facts, and more octopuses than you can shake a tentacle at! (Flying Eye Books)
*Many thanks to Chicken House Books for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour*