Sunday 16 November 2014

Recommendation: The Map To Everywhere by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis

The Map To Everywhere by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis 
(Orion Children's Books, given to me for recommendation consideration - thank you!)
First in the Pirate Stream series

Whenever I'm in a reading slump in the future I just need to remind myself that MG fantasy and adventure is clearly the way out of it. Having read several books in a row that ranged from underwhelming to fine but nothing more, and giving up on a few halfway through, I was reminded of the sheer magic of reading by two very different adventure stories which were just what I needed.

First up, I got my hands on a coveted copy of Abi Elphinstone's much-anticipated debut Dreamsnatcher - more about this nearer its February release but you should probably pre-order because it's pretty awesome!

Then, Charlie thrust a copy of The Map To Everywhere into my hands. This was one that I basically wanted to read because it has to be a strong contender for most gorgeous cover of the year; I wanted to see if the book could match up to it. I had high hopes because Charlie has rather fantastic taste in books (one of her recent recommendations was The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson; Twitter followers will know just how much I loved that!)

Nothing could have prepared me for just how much I'd love this one, though! I was quickly entranced by the brilliant world-building, with the mysterious Pirate Stream and its unpredictable effects on anything it touches, the rumour vines which pass on secrets, and the pirats (not a spelling mistake; they're actual rats!) who help to crew the ship our heroes sail on.

Throw into this remarkably imaginative world an equally superb cast of characters - Fin, the master thief who nearly everyone forgets as soon as he's out of sight, Marrill, the girl dragged from our world who's somehow able to recall him, and Ardent the wizard, constantly hoping someone will have heard of him, and I was absolutely hooked. (And that's without mentioning any of the wonderfully wicked villains, or the Naysayer, who enters the story quite late on but comes close to stealing the show with his cynical quips.)

This is a quest story, with Fin searching for the Map to Everywhere to try and find his mother, and Marrill needing it to locate her way back to our world and to her own mother, who's ill. It stands out over the majority of similar books, though - the plot is excellent, with twists, turns, and a satisfying conclusion which leaves the way open for the next in the series, but perhaps what makes this even more than the sum of these rather remarkable parts is the sheer sense of fun the two authors being to the book. It's a high-octane, wild ride and I read every page with an absolutely massive smile on my face - at least until tough decisions needed to be made at the end, by which point I was slightly shocked by how deeply I was caring about these characters.

Hugely recommended, book two is already noted as an absolute must-read for next year.

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