A young boy takes part in a magical adventure involving fairies, goblins, banshees, mermaids, and other creatures in Dunne’s middle-grade fantasy debut.
This modern-day fairy tale instantly conjures up a feeling of enchantment and warmth with its beautifully evocative opening sentence, “On Ludlow Osgoode’s eleventh birthday, he was kidnapped by a fairy.” Soon, he finds himself trapped in a crate with that same female fairy named Adhair, aka Harry. It’s clear that the abduction isn’t going exactly according to Harry’s plans, because Raghnall and Berneas, the goblins who she’d thought were her henchmen, have locked her into the crate as well. Upon arrival at their destination, the goblin ship Anathema, Harry learns that its banshee captain, Morag, had ordered the goblins to betray her. It seems that Morag hadn’t trusted Harry to grab Ludlow on her own; this was prescient on Morag’s part, as the fairy has no interest in kidnapping children—she only follows Morag’s commands in order to stay alive. This leaves Ludlow, a resourceful young bookworm, to come up with an escape plan that involves not only Harry, but also Raghnall. In this engrossing tale, Dunne consistently intersperses “facts” throughout the narrative about the numerous magical creatures that populate her fictional universe, most of which offer unique, funny spins on classic fantasy figures. For example, at one point, she explains that all mermaids “hate to be called ‘fishface.’ ” There’s a charming matter-of-factness to the humor throughout, which readers may find to be reminiscent of the late Douglas Adams and other British fantasists. Throughout, Ludlow is a smart, winning protagonist that bookish young readers will identify with and root for.
A delightful novel that could comfortably sit on a shelf beside beloved works of children’s literature.