Author: Abi Elphinstone
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s UK
Publication Date: 30th May 2019
About the book:
Eleven-year-old Casper Tock hates risks, is allergic to adventures and shudders at the thought of unpredictable events. So, it comes as a nasty shock to him when he accidentally stumbles into Rumblestar, an Unmapped Kingdom full of magical beasts.
All Casper wants is to find a way home, but Rumblestar is in trouble. An evil harpy called Morg is sending her followers, the Midnights, into the kingdom to wreak havoc and pave the way for her to steal the Unmapped magic for herself. But Casper cannot turn a blind eye because the future of his own world, he discovers, is bound up with that of the Unmapped Kingdoms.
And so, together with Utterly Thankless, a girl who hates rules and is allergic to behaving, and her miniature dragon, Arlo, Casper embarks upon an adventure full of cloud giants, storm ogres and drizzle hags. Can he, Utterly and Arlo, the unlikeliest of heroes, save the Unmapped Kingdoms and our world from the clutches of Morg and her Midnights?
What I Thought:
Rumblestar is the first full tale in The Unmapped Chronicles series by Abi Elphinstone. The series began with a short story, Everdark, which was released for World Book Day earlier this year. I absolutely adored Everdark when I read it, and you can find my review here. It’s certainly possible to read and enjoy Rumblestar without having read Everdark, you’ll be able to understand the plot but there’s a wonderful backstory you’ll be missing out on if you don’t read it!
Casper Tock is busy hiding from one of the school bullies when the grandfather clock he has tucked himself away in is suddenly no longer a grandfather clock, but the inside of a tree, and tucked in beside him his a young girl and her miniature dragon. Taken away from his usual timetables and lists young Casper finds himself on the adventure of a lifetime, alongside Utterly and Arlo he must save Rumblestar from Morg and her Midnights, and then maybe he’ll get to go home.
I must confess the very beginning of Rumblestar took me by surprise, one of the bullies Casper faces tells him he’s the wrong class, and colour to be attending Little Wallops Boarding School. I let out a slight gasp as I wasn’t expecting the blatant racism, it took me back to my primary school days. I was never told I was the wrong colour, but one girl once told me I was muddy and should wash more. Now to my school’s defence this only ever happened once, and I should be clear that it is very clear in Rumblestar that Candida is not a nice person and that’s not an acceptable sort of thing to say but it was still slightly surprising to read.
From the moment Casper reaches Rumblestar to the very last page Rumblestar was simply a joy to read, each page is filled with action and adventure as Casper, Utterly and Arlo travel far and wide across Rumblestar on their quest to save both Rumblestar and the Faraway. The story is full of excitement, at points it is intense, and at points very moving and full of important messages of friendship, loyalty and the true meaning of bravery.
Abi’s world building is incredible, there is a map at the beginning of the book and over time our trio reach each identified part of Rumblestar, visiting the Drizzle Hags at The Witch’s Fingers, the Snow Trolls at Shiverbark Forest, the Sun Scamps of Dapplemere and the Ogres of The Smoking Chimneys. Each part of Rumblestar comes to life from the pages, as each part of the kingdom that creates the marvels which give the Faraway its weather is described. The kingdom of Rumblestar truly is a work of art, I loved the small touches that Abi included throughout, from the grumpy hags with their doormat reading Home Is Where The Arguments Happen, to the Snow Trolls busy practicing mindfulness. Bits of humor for the adults reading to their children as much as the children themselves who may pick up on it.
Then we have the characters – Abi has created a whole world filled with wonderful characters with the most amazing names! Are central trio are Casper Tock, Utterly Thankless and Arlo the miniature dragon. I felt a connection with Casper right from the prologue, as the daughter of one particularly disorganised parent, I spent many an afternoon having milkshakes because my mother had forgotten her key, and I still arrive for long distance train journeys and flights far too early as I still worry about being late and missing them! Casper clings to his organisation, his lists and timetables to keep a sense of certainty in his life, and in a way to keep people at arms length, to protect himself. He is a wonderful boy, who learns to much about himself as well as Rumblestar and The Unmapped Kingdoms throughout the course of the book.
Utterly Thankless is another who has built walls around herself, using her fierceness and a put on troublesome nature to keep people at bay and protect herself. It was clear from quite early on there was something in her past that made her behave the way she did, it was truly heartbreaking when she finally shared her story. I loved seeing the pair of them lower their walls and gradually make their way from work colleagues, to acquaintances, and eventually to friends. As well as seeing Utterly open herself back up to the other people of Rumblestar
The magical beings that produce the weather marvels across Rumblestar were wonderful. As I mentioned before I loved the Drizzle Hags, the Sun Scamps were wonderful with special mention to Matt (Multitasker And Terribly Talkative) and Rose (Reading Over Strenuous Exercise) as having particularly wonderful names. I may take on Rose as a new nickname as I certainly agree with what it stands for! Bristlebeard and Brushwick the Snow Trolls were full of wisdom. The following is certainly something I intend to live by going forwards.
Life is a little bit like snow, boy: frequently disruptive, hopelessly unpredictable and often quick to fade. But my word, is it beautiful while it lasts. 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.Bristlebeard the Snow Troll – Rumblestar by Abi Elphinstone
The worst part of Rumblestar was reaching the end and realising that this may be the only time I get to experience an adventure with Casper and Utterly. While their story reached a wonderful conclusion I could easily spend another book or two following their exploits they were such wonderful characters.
Finally I must give a special mention to chapter two and a half – as included in the Waterstones edition of Rumblestar. It was so wonderful to catch up with Smudge and Bartholomew again but I do believe the book was better for this to be included as a bonus chapter and not take away from Casper and Utterly’s story.
What an utterly magical and compelling read Rumblestar is! I absolutely flew through it yesterday afternoon but I can see it making a wonderful bedtime story a chapter or two at a time. Rumblestar itself was absolutely glorious to read about and the characters were incredible! With Everdark and now Rumblestar I would say The Unmapped Chronicles are shaping up to be this generations must read fantasy series! I shouldn’t wish time away but roll on May 2020 so I can get my hands on Jungledrop!
About The Author
Abi Elphinstone grew up in Scotland where she spent most of her childhood building dens, hiding in tree houses and running wild across highland glens. After being coaxed out of her tree house, she studied English at Bristol University and then worked as a teacher.
THE DREAMSNATCHER is her debut novel for 8-12 years (published by Simon & Schuster in 2015). THE SHADOW KEEPER is her second children’s book (published by Simon & Schuster in 2016).
When she’s not writing, Abi volunteers for Beanstalk, teaches creative writing workshops in schools and travels the world looking for her next story. Her latest adventure involved living with the Kazakh Eagle Hunters in Mongolia…
Connect With Abi
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As always if you’ve read the book let me know what you thought! If you’ve not read it yet will my review convince you to pick it up?