Vashti Hardy’s first title for Barrington Stoke contains all the components required of the perfect adventure story for children. A brave if somewhat impetuous lead character, clues to solve, villains to defeat, a wise and loyal companion and a map. Oh, and the ability to teleport! The steampunk fantasy style that this award winning author has become known for is presented here in a shorter but equally exciting version. This will introduce even the most reluctant of readers to a whole new world of adventures with further stories to follow in the series.
Grace’s family are wardens of the Griffin map, the most important piece of technology in the city of Copperport, and have been since the days of Great Grandma Griffin. They use the map to protect the whole country of Moreland and keep law and order throughout the land. The portals on the map allow them to travel to wherever help is needed and once there they right wrongs with the help of technology and skill. However Grace is still training for the role and when her Mum and older brother, Bren disappear on their missions she is left behind. Grace longs to join them and one day she seizes the opportunity to show them that she is capable of being a fully fledged warden too. However her ensuing adventure is not as straightforward as she had hoped.
This has the feel of a big adventure despite being told in fewer than one hundred pages. A great plot, characters who develop throughout the story and a realistic fantasy world are all created by Vashti Hardy. The importance of family and the use of power for good is incorporated into an irresistible adventure with care. Grace is a brilliant character, I warmed to her and think readers will do so. The illustrations by Natalie Smillie throughout the book add to the enjoyment and complement the text well capturing the essence of the characters and the storyline.
This is a book combining fantasy and technology with friendship and family in a world created by an author who understands what appeals to young readers. We have episode two, The Puffin Portal, to look forward to in 2021 as well.
As with all books published by Barrington Stoke Unique The Griffin Gate is produced in a dyslexia-friendly font specially created to make reading easier and an accessible layout and heavier paper with a gentle tint helps reduce visual stress. Careful editing ensures that this story can be enjoyed by children with a reading age of 8+.
I should like to thank Kirstin Lamb and Barrington Stoke for sending my review copy. The Griffin Gate is published on 1st October and will be available in all good bookshops and online at independent bookshop Bear Hunt Books.