Wednesday 6 December 2017

The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty

I am a fan of the Moriarty sisters -  Liane, Nicola and Jaclyn - they have all gone off in different directions, genres and target audiences but the one thing they have in common is thoroughly engaging stories, believable characters and the ability to suck me into their world.

Jacyln's previous series that wowed my socks off was The Colour of Madeleine trilogy. These books were aimed at an older teen audience - light fantasy, a little romance and a great concept. The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone is for younger readers - about 10 plus. It's another light fantasy with a great concept, but more concerned with family and friendship than romance, although I'm still wondering about Aunt Isabelle and the Butler!

Bronte begins her story with the sudden death of her parents. This is not as sad an event as you might expect as Bronte was left by her parents on Aunt Isabelle's doorstop when she was a baby. Bronte's feelings about her parents, are therefore, complicated.

Things quickly become even more complicated when the terms of their wills are revealed. Bronte is to go on a quest, an adventure no less, to visit all her aunts (there are ten more besides Aunt Isabelle!) The timing for each visit is very specific as are suggestions for places to eat, gifts to give each aunt and the very definite condition that Bronte travels alone. She is only ten years of age. Aunt Isabelle is horrified, but the will is cross-stitched in faerie thread which means that if Bronte doesn't follow the instructions exactly as stated, if she breaks the terms, then her home town will also break.

This is pretty serious sounding stuff you have to agree. But Bronte heads off on her quest with oodles of optimism, trust and commonsense.

She encounters dragons, rescues water sprites and goes on the run from pirates. She saves a baby in danger of drowning, befriends a girl running off to join the circus and meets a mysterious boy with no shoes.

Each aunt has stories to tell Bronte about her parents. She gradually learns some of their secrets as well as learning some startling new things about herself. Moriarty does all of this with a lightness of touch and a great deal of charm.

Kelly Canby's quirky line drawings are scattered throughout the book. They highlight the sense of fun that permeates the whole story as well as giving this lovely hardback edition a dash of style.

This would be a fabulous bedtime read aloud book to enjoy together as a family. Highly recommended.

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