Thatchthorpe is the last link to saving the Bloodtree and its stories. A master of words, puzzles and language, he was great friends with Spindale's grandfather, Professor Hourly, and is somehow connected with her missing father.
Spindale, Flint and Bramble need to work fast to find the missing code and defeat the evil Rackenard and Zezmena. But ultimately, the fate of the Silvering Kingdom and its stories lies with Abigail. Is she smart enough to figure it out?
There is a wealth of fantasy novels available these days for young readers; gone are the days of the simple Once-Upon-A-Time-And-They-All-Lived-Happily-Ever-After formula. Modern works of this genre are far more likely to be part of a series, and to mix modern reality with timeless magic. For me, the success of books such as these is that they can be read as standalone stories. Not everybody will have read the first books in the series, so it is important that the reader does not need to go out and purchase these first in order to enjoy a new publication.
I was pleased to find that this book lived up to expectations. There were just enough references to the back story for me to be able to engage with the plot, and it was not long before I had left the contemporary world behind me and was whisked off to the land of the Silvering Kingdom. I was reminded of C.S.Lewis' Narnia series - there were some elements in common insofar as the tale revolved around a journey from one world to another. On another level, it reminded me of the movie "The Wizard of Oz" - even one of the chapter names is inspired by that particular story!
The story moves at a rip-roaring pace with plenty of excitement for Abigail/Spindale as she undertakes her quest. The other characters are an interesting mix of personalities, with good and bad and everything in between represented. I did find I sometimes needed to go back a chapter to make sure I remembered where each character fitted into the story.
I loved the theme of storytelling and (literally) playing with words. It intrigued me and made me want to read on to find out what was at stake. The Bloodtree is a magic tree that is the source of all tales. If it is not protected, there will be no more stories. By saving the kingdom, Abigail will also save the tree for generations to come so that everyone can enjoy its stories.
Like all good fantasy stories, this one ends well; nevertheless, there is always the possibility that there may be yet another book in the series. The final chapter might suggest this: it is entitled "The End ... Or Is It?" That would sum it up nicely: there may, or may not be, a fourth book to follow. I suppose it all depends on how generous the Bloodtree is feeling!
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