Title: Sky Pirates: Echo Quickthorn and the Great Beyond
Written by: Alex English
Illustrated by: Mark Chambers
Published by: Simon & Schuster
An exciting, fast-paced action adventure starring a determined and feisty female main protagonist called Echo. Alex English weaves an enchanting tale with great characterisation and outstanding world-building skills. The immensely detailed descriptions of Lockhart, Port Tourbillion and the Violet Isles create vivid images of these wildly inventive places. The story had me gripped from the start.
Eleven year-old Echo has grown up believing that nothing exists outside the city walls of the Kingdom of Lockfort – there is only the barren and then the edge of the world. Echo is King Alfons ward as she was abandoned as a baby outside the palace doors. The only clue to her heritage is a small gold and emerald hairpin that was clipped to her baby blanket. To keep everyone safe King Alfons has locked the gates of Lockfort and they will only open when the prophecy has been fulfilled. Echo feels trapped and out of place and wishes there was more.
Her wish comes true when eccentric Professor Mangrove Daggerwing accidently crashes his airship into her bedroom window. He shows her a map full of magical places just waiting for her to explore. Together with her extremely intelligent pet lizard, Gilbert, and the introverted entomologist, Prince Horace who stowed away in the airship, Echo sets off on an incredible adventure to find out who her parents are. On their journey they encounter giant butterflies, mechanical dragons and of course… notorious sky pirates.
Horace and Echo have a brilliant prickly relationship that grows to real friendship. I particularly liked the way the reluctant adventurer Horace develops the courage to stand up for what he believes at the end of the book.
A great escapist book to read alone or to listen to in the book corner or at bedtime. A must read for fans of Peter Bunzl’s Cogheart series. I can’t wait to read what is next in store for Echo Quickthorn.