There are these particular books that give you this high. That special feeling like something is falling into place, clicking. It glues you to the page, makes you reckless in wanting to finish it. You know you should write that report, that essay, finish that task and your supervisor/teacher/boss is looming just over there but you would still sneek a peak, no matter the tongue lashing you would get if discovered. It’s a high that I – all of us probably – constantly chase. “Rumblestar” was such a book for me.
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?
While I felt that the little prequel “Everdark” needed some more focus and brainpower to read, Rumblestar seemed perfectly rounded. It read a little like the author had found a place in her own story and was perfectly happy giving her reader the grand tour. And what a tour it was.
The world building was nothing sheer of amazing. While I got a glimpse of everything in Everdark, this book unfolded all its magic and mysteries before me and lets you discover the most amazing things left and right and above and below you. It felt like I could taste the magic of the Unmapped Kingdoms and I felt a yearning of being able to visit and explore it myself. Drizzlehags, cloudgiants and snowgoblins are just a few of the amazing creatures to meet. And don’t even get me started on the (miniature) dragons because then we will be here all week.
However, no matter how magical, amazing and mindboggling the worldbuilding is, this book would probably only half as fun without the characters.
Casper Tock, just a regular boy in an English bording school, would never even consider doing anthing that is not properly planned and scheduled and all the (more than) appropriate safety meassures have been taken. Since I also rather plan things than going headfirst into the unknown, I felt an instant connection to him.
He is a cautious and worried boy, constantly bullied and alone. When he accidentally stumbles into Rumblestar with all its magic and danger and chaos, he is less than thrilled. It was fun to see the story from Casper’s perspective and see him grow and mature and learn things about himself and about others. While we don’t see much from the perspective of the other most important character – a headstrong girl from Rumblestar named Utterly Thankless – I still liked witnessing her arc and how Utterly herself changed through this adventure these two (and Utterly’s miniature dragon Arlo) have to go through.
The book not only lets you live through an amazing magical adventure, it also deals with issues like loneliness, bullying, grief and high expectations (from others and yourself). Sometimes the hardships those children have to face on their endeavors are their own personal demons and insecurities and while this is often not very cloaked or wrapped to make it a little less obvious, I still liked to see how they were dealing with all of it.
At the end of the book I felt more than a little sad that it was over. I cannot wait to venture back into the Unmapped Kingdoms and into Jungledrop and Crackledawn and Everdark. I want another look, more magic, I want to see more amazing creatures and spells and inventions like I’ve got a whiff of in Rumblestar. There is so much more to discover. Also, Rumblestar has dragons. Did I mention the dragons?