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

Monday 23 November 2020

Drawing on the Industrial Revolution and with the Cole’s Book Arcade of Melbourne in 1893, as a backdrop, Amelia Mellor has written a highly imaginative and inventive fantasy novel with historical building blocks. 

She won the 2018 May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust’s Ian Wilson Memorial Fellowship, for The Grandest Bookshop in the World.

Pearl Cole’s Pa is a man of great vision who thirty years ago, designed the Cole’s Book Arcade for his family. Skilled at enchantments, he applied them to fill the Arcade with animals and rare flora and fauna, creating spaces of great beauty and peaceful surroundings for people to go to read, not necessarily to buy.

Having lost his beloved daughter Ruby to Scarlet Fever, he makes a deal with his old rival, the conniving and powerful Obscurosmith, Magnus Maximillian, to bring Ruby back to life. He is coerced into forfeiting the Arcade if the deal succeeds.

But the clever magician and master manipulator of words – said and unsaid, always wins. The Ruby he produces is close to, but not exactly, what he has promised.

Pearl Cole, observant and highly intelligent, discovers Pa’s secret dealings, and determined to save their home, makes her own deal with Magnus. Unable to undertake the challenges alone, she reveals her plan to her brother Vally.

Seven tasks in an allocated time-frame is what Pearl commits to. These turn out to be harder than the siblings imagined. Magnus’ unwritten rules keep breeding extenuating circumstances which he uses to steal their memories and weaken their father’s health.

Time is running out. What they are doing is discovered by the remaining siblings and the circle of participants widens.

Who will be the winner and what will they have lost along the way? As the Arcade slowly disintegrates, Pa becomes frail and Pearl and Vally’s memories weaken further. Will they manage to meet the deadline and if so, how?

Edge-of-your-seat tension propels the story forward. Full of action, magical scenes and twists and turns, this fabulous read is for everyone who loves clever language, mind-bending suspense and a sizzling storyline.

Title: The Grandest Bookshop in the World
Author: Amelia Mellor
Publisher: Affirm Press, $19.99
Publication Date: 29 September 2020
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781925972955
For ages: 11+
Type: Middle Grade Fiction