Today I am delighted to be sharing with you the first book in the wonderful new, ‘Sky Pirates,’ series, ‘Echo Quickthorn and the Great Beyond,’ written by Alex English and illustrated by Mark Chambers. I was in a bit of a reading slump when I picked this up but I absolutely devoured this book in one day it was so joyful. Echo Quickthorn doesn’t quite fit into the mould of a Lady, she’d rather be climbing amongst the ramparts of the castle then sitting quietly embroidering. She’s not allowed to leave the confinements of the palace but still she dreams of stepping outside into the unknown. Her life changes dramatically one day, when an airship crashes into the castle and an eccentric professor tells tales of world beyond the barren. Will Echo risk everything and seize her chance to go on the adventure of the lifetime? Absolutely, breathtaking and bursting with excitement, this is a wonderfully charming tale that will sweep you off your feet. I can see children falling in love with Echo and be thrilled and marvel at a world containing sky pirates, mechanical dragons and fiendish villains. Mark’s cover and illustrations capture perfectly the spirit and freedom of Echo and gives us a glimpse of the many wonders we will find inside the pages. Delightful characterisation meets dramatic storytelling in this truly fantastical story. I simply cannot wait to go on another Sky Pirates adventure with Echo.
To celebrate the release of this fabulous adventure, I have a special guest post from Alex on her brilliant characters.
A brief introduction to the characters in Sky Pirates – Alex English
When I write, I tend to start with characters and, once they get going, the story just seems to follow. Sky Pirates: Echo Quickthorn and the Great Beyond began when I was at Bath Spa University. I wrote a scene about a girl called Echo, who heard something strange outside her window and opened the curtains to discover an airship. From that point on, I didn’t stop! More characters appeared and more adventures happened.
Here’s a little bit about the main characters in Sky Pirates:
Dark-haired and freckled Echo is a rather impulsive but brave 11-year-old girl. She’s grown up as a ward of the king of Lockfort since being abandoned as a baby, and longs to be allowed to explore outside the castle and find her family. But outside the city walls is the Barren, a bare and rocky expanse, and beyond that is the end of the world (or so she has been told). Her only real friend is her lizard, Gilbert.
Gilbert is a rather special lizard, who can communicate with Echo via chirrups and squeaks. His golden scales change colour according to his emotional state (bright pink when Echo embarrasses him) and he’s an observant and helpful sidekick. He’s rather partial to almonds (and flies) and terrified of birds.
Horace is also 11 and the only other child in the castle, although not quite up to Echo’s adventurous standards. He’s a pudding heart (Echo’s words) and not terribly brave, at least at first, but he is very well read. He particularly loves butterflies and is quite the bug geek. He and Echo have a love-hate relationship and are always bickering.
Professor Daggerwing is a dashing, ginger-haired inventor, explorer and adventurer – and more intriguingly, an outsider! He arrives in Lockfort in his airship in the middle of the night, crashes into the castle and is thrown into the dungeons. He claims to have come from beyond the Barren and shows Echo a map of all the places that exist outside the city.
King Alfons of Lockfort
King Alfons is Horace’s father and he rules the roost in Lockfort. He is fond of doling out punishments, hates outsiders and orders Professor Daggerwing’s map to be burnt. He’s up to something… but what?
There are many more minor characters, but I’ll let you discover those for yourselves!
Thanks to Alex for that really interesting insight, I love finding out more about writers create their stories.
You can find out more by joining in with the rest of the blog tour for more guest posts and reviews.
Thanks to Olivia and Simon and Schuster for inviting me to join in with the blog tour and for sending me a gifted copy of this wonderful adventure. ‘Echo Quickthorn and the Great Beyond,’ is available to buy now online or from your local bookshop. Please support your local indie bookshop if at all possible.