It was with much anticipation that I opened up by beautiful copy of ‘Brightstorm’ by Vashti Hardy after hearing so many people on Twitter rave about how fabulous this book is, and let me tell you they were spot on! This breath-taking, thrilling debut totally enchanted me with its rich storytelling, incredible world-building and compelling cast of characters. It opens with the heart-breaking news that twins Arthur and Maudie are left orphans after their father’s failed attempt to reach the South Polaris. Their family name is disgraced as he stands accused of trying to steal fuel from competitor before he died and they are cast out of their home. Determined to prove his innocence they convince Miss Culpepper to allow them to join the crew of her sky-ship ‘Aurora’ as the race to reach the South Polaris begins anew. Not only must they prove themselves worthy explorers to restore the ‘Brightstorm’ reputation, they must use all their wiles to uncover the truth about their father’s ill-fated mission. Will Arthur and Maddie find the evidence they need to prove their father’s innocence?
This is such a joyful, magnificent read, that totally entranced me from the very first page and captivated me till the very last page. The characterisation is just flawless, Vashti has assembled the most interesting and engaging cast of characters. Arthur has to be only one of a handful of disabled MG characters that I have seen featured but Vashti chooses to make his lack of self-belief his weakness and challenge rather than his disability. His bravery comes from drawing on and developing his inner resources not from fighting to overcome any physical limitation he may have in difficult times. I’m fascinated by Maudie’s inquisitive mind and her remarkable ability to understand the workings of mechanics and her wondrous inventive spirit which is capable of designing the most complex creations. We’re then blessed with the sky-ship’s Captain, the eccentric and rather marvellous Harriet Culpepper who is a genius inventor with an incredibly big heart. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any better we have the dastardly, deliciously dark Eudora Vane who will stop at nothing to win the race and steal all the glory for herself. She is so cold and calculating she makes Cruella de Vil look positively saintly!
This is an story of truly epic proportions, it will sweep you away through the skies across frozen plains to unknown lands on a voyage of discovery, that will take your breath away. At the heart of this story is the need for courage and bravery in the darkest of times as both Arthur and Maudie face unsurmountable challenges which they must overcome to clear their father’s name. But it is the power of friendship that holds this story together, incredible bonds are forged in the most unexpected of places as they battle to win the race and complete their expedition. Vashti has created this remarkable, fully imagined world that you want to lose yourself in. An exceptional story, beautifully told I just loved this thrilling adventure.
Thank you to Scholastic for sending me a copy of this glorious book, ‘Brightstorm: High Adventure in the Frozen South’ is released on the 1st March and is available to pre-order from online or from any good bookshop.