Rumblestar by Abi Elphinstone

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Published by Simon & Schuster, 2019.

Rumblestar is the second book in the brilliant Unmapped Chronicles series. Rumblestar is the name of one of four secret Unmapped Kingdoms in a fantastic magical world which lies beyond our own. We were first introduced to the magical kingdoms in Everdark, a book which Abi penned for World Book Day. Rumblestar is next sequentially but it’s mainly about new characters and is set many years later. Abi is writing each book in the series as a stand-alone novel but later books reference the earlier ones and there are characters who crossover.

Each book is set in a different kingdom and is about a different child from our world (the Faraway) trying to save the kingdom and its magic from an evil harpy called Morg. In Rumblestar this responsibility falls to 11-year-old Casper Tock, an anxious, risk-averse boy who organises his life with timetables and to-do lists. He arrives unexpectedly in Rumblestar via a grandfather clock which he was hiding in, trying to escape the school bully. He is immediately captured by an angry 11-year-old girl called Utterly Thankless who suspects him of being the criminal responsible for damaging the kingdom’s marvels – vital ingredients in the manufacturing of weather.

Making weather is important business in the Unmapped Kingdoms. This is because in order to keep their magic, the Unmapped Kingdoms must share it with the Faraway. They do this by secretly creating their weather for them. They send it to the Faraway on weather scrolls via dragons. Rumblestar is central to this process because it’s here where the precious marvels are made, caught and bottled. Each of the other three Unmapped Kingdoms then make ink with these marvels to create a different type of weather: rain in Jungledrop, sunlight in Crackledawn, and snow in Silvercrag.

Rumblestar is a kingdom in the sky with a magical castle perched in the clouds. Outside the castle walls lies the Beyond. And it is here that Casper, Utterly and her pocket-sized pet dragon Arlo are destined to adventure. Morg is still trapped in Everdark without her wings, unable to travel to Rumblestar. Instead, she has summoned terrifying winged beasts called Midnights from the feathers of her old wings and sent them to wreak havoc in Rumblestar on her behalf. Casper and Utterly must destroy the Midnights to save the kingdom and to do this Casper must find a familiar face.

The unlikely heroes venture to all four corners of the kingdom, braving the territories of the drizzle hags, snow trolls, sun scamps and storm ogres. It’s a breathtaking adventure: canoe rides through rapids and fierce mudgrapple reeds, treetop fights with Midnights, and hair-raising flights on Zip the hot air balloon.

I loved the book’s positive themes of friendship, hope and courage.

We can’t always know where we’re heading, when we’ll get there or even who we’ll meet along the way, but we can choose how we travel – and I’d say it’s best to journey with friends alongside us and hope tucked firmly in our pockets.

Rumblestar shows us the power of friendship to heal and embolden. Casper is a lonely young boy afraid to risk the complex emotions that come with friendship. Utterly is brittle and angry after the recent death of her sister. They are brought together by fate rather than choice and to begin with their relationship is tense and difficult. However, through adversity and peril, they forge a unforgettable and life-changing friendship.

With her expert storytelling, Abi has vividly conjured up an exciting new world. The different regions have each been exquisitely realised and the wonderful details bring Rumblestar brilliantly alive. I also love the names that Abi has chosen for her characters – Slumbergrot, a sleeping giant, Bristlebeard and Brushwick, the snow trolls, and best of all, Candida Cashmere-Jumps and Leopold Splattercash, the frightfully posh and obscenely rich boarding school bullies.

I thoroughly enjoyed Rumblestar; it’s a gripping, life-affirming book where loyalty, bravery and friendship triumph over evil.

Rating: 💙💙💙💙💙

Suitable for children aged 8+

Thank you to Simon & Schuster for sending me a limited edition book proof to review.

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