The Three Impossibles by Susie Bower is an enjoyable blend of quest, adventure, magic and fairy tale featuring a reluctant princess with an insatiable curiosity. A story to make you believe that the impossible is achievable with a little patience.
On the day she was born Princess Jemima’s mother died and a mysterious curse was cast on her family. Ever since, Jemima, or Mim as she prefers to be known, has been isolated in a walled castle, forbidden from venturing to the Outside by her father the King. But Mim has an Enquiring Mind and, frustrated by the secrets that surround her, is always asking questions. Her grumpy governess Miss Fogarty, ‘Foggy’, has little success in educating Mim in the art of being a Princess so the King brings a sinister stranger to the palace to take control of Mim’s education. Madame Marionette’s ensuing power over the King and the court prompts Mim to investigate matters still further. The discovery of a mysterious book in the library helps to set in place a series of events that result in Mim tackling an epic quest that will change her life completely.
This is enjoyable adventure and it is easy to warm to Mim who is an appealing protagonist. Her repeated claim to have an Enquiring Mind is true and her curiosity is central to the story. Told from Mim’s point of view the reader accompanies her as she experiences bewilderment, danger and heartbreak, and ultimately love, loyalty and understanding. It is a satisfying journey.
There are some wonderful characters involved in this adventure and I particularly liked Smith the gruff but devoted blacksmith who offers support and friendship to Mim and Mac, the old alchemist who plays an important part in the story. Madame Marionette is a villain in the true tradition of children’s literature, glamorous but deadly. The fairytale quality of both the story and the setting adds to the enjoyment. The curse at the heart of the story reminiscent of Sleeping Beauty, the princess locked in the castle, the evil would be stepmother, all of these children will recognise, perhaps subliminally, and this familiarity is part of the reading experience for them. The mythical, evil mer-people feature in some of the scenes when there is the greatest sense of danger and threat. There is just enough peril to excite and to scare, but not too much.
The setting is wonderful. The description of the library, the curved walls reaching up to the glass roof above and “the most interesting smell in the whole castle” is a book lover’s dream. The castle itself with the ocean lapping at its walls reminded me very much of Mont St Michel off the coast of Normandy and the descriptions of the landscape heighten the sense of danger and mystery. The reader is transported to a magical place where the impossible does in fact seem possible. A satisfying and enjoyable read and perfect for adventure loving young readers.
The Three Impossibles was published on 3rd June by Pushkin Press and is available to purchase online. I would like to thank Poppy Stimpson for my proof copy.
You may be interested in this fascinating interview with Susie Bower hosted by Nikki Gamble on In The Reading Corner about the inspiration for this lovely story.
If you are looking for another adventure for this age group I would recommend Sky Song by Abi Elphinstone, another story with a magical quality featuring a brave girl battling against an evil villain.