'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 5 December 2013

Review: The Queen and the Nobody Boy

Hodie is the unpaid odd-job boy at the Grand Palace in the Kingdom of Fontania. He lives on scraps, wonders why both his mother and father abandoned him, and spends a lot of his time listening at windows.

Sibella is the young Queen of Fontania. She's supposed to come into her magical powers at the age of twelve, but nothing's happened yet and she's sick of Fontanian gossip bemoaning her lack of talent.

The rival kingdom of Um'Binnia is ruled by the pompous Emperor Prowdd'on. In Um'Binnia there is no magic and machines rule supreme. Prowdd'on is determined to wage war on Fontania and claim it for himself. And if he can only find the mysterious Ties, then he can gain control of the magical dragon-eagles too.

After a convoluted series of events, Hodie and Sibella find themselves unlikely travelling companions on their way to Um'Binnia. In between being captured by rebels (the Emperor has his fair share of enemies within his own country), protected by ex-pirate Corporal Murgott, and at times helped by the Um'Binnian Princessa Lu'nedda, can Hodie and Sibella find either of Hodie's parents, track down The Ties, or save Fontania from Um'Binnian occupation? And what does the squirrel have to do with it all?

I was drawn to this book right from the moment I saw the marvellous steampunk cover. Fortunately, the story didn't disappoint. Written by acclaimed New Zealand author, Barbara Else, this is a quirky, zany and thoroughly entertaining read that should appeal to lovers of magic, fantasy and adventure. For anyone who has read her previous book, The Travelling Restaurant (now on my 'to read' list), this book features some of the same characters, but it can certainly be enjoyed as a stand-alone novel.

Title: The Queen and the Nobody Boy (A Tale of Fontania)
Author: Barbara Else
Publisher: Gecko Press, $19.99 RRP
Publication Date: March 2013
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781877579233
For ages: 11+
Type: Middle Fiction