I’m a huge Vashti Hardy fan - the ‘Brightstorm’ series and Wildspark are superb - and so was thrilled to read her first book for younger readers. Retaining her trademark steampunk style, Hardy serves up the perfect adventure story as she invites readers of 8+ to teleport into the magical world of The Griffin Gate.
Grace Griffin, her brother Bren and her mother Ann live in the city of Copperport which is part of the country of Moreland. The Griffin family have a very important job, they are Griffin wardens whose role it is to help and protect the citizens and to keep the country lawful. Using the Griffin map and its teleporting technology, the Griffins are able to hop through portals to help anyone, anywhere. Grace is desperate to be a warden and to carry out her own missions but at thirteen years old she is still two years away from being old enough.
When the map starts flashing and Grace is the only one in the room, she takes the opportunity to prove to everyone that she is old enough and skilled enough to be a warden. But Grace finds herself in a strange village and on a mission that could see her entire family destroyed…
It was an absolute masterstroke by Barrington Stoke to sign Vashti Hardy. In her debut book for the publisher, Hardy has created an intriguing mystery with a strong sense of family that will appeal to a wide audience. In what is a relatively short read - one-hundred-and-four pages, Hardy packs in an abundance of action, peril, excitement and family drama. The engaging plot will have readers frantically trying to solve the mystery along with Grace in a story that is a genuine page-turner.
The Griffin Gate is set in a unique and original world and I love the idea of transporting through a map to help those in need. Hardy is a big advocate of STEM and this agains shines through in her writing as readers are treated to mechanicals, a teleporting map, stun-sticks, spyglasses and other everyday objects that have been given weird and wonderful scientific powers.
Just like the lead characters in Hardy’s longer novels, Grace is a wonderful protagonist and the perfect heroine. She is flawed, genuine and her heart is in the right place. She is jealous that her older brother has recently started doing his own missions even though she feels she is as equally as skilled as he is and regularly out does him in training. Grace simply wants the chance to prove herself and it is this need that sees her break the rules. Even when it is apparent that she has taken on more than she is capable of you never once feel that she has been irresponsible, there is more a sense of, ‘you go girl, you got this.’ She is brave, fearless and a super role-model for readers.
The book is produced using dyslexic friendly font and colours, the chapters are short and the well-spaced out text means that the book is accessible to every reader of 8+. Producing accessible books is something that Barrington Stoke pride themselves on and any child who picks up The Griffin Gate is in for an absolute treat. And if things couldn’t get any better, Natalie Smillie has added her artistic touch to create awesome black and white illustrations that feature throughout.
Grace Griffin will be returning in another adventure soon and I cannot wait. Perhaps Vashti Hardy can teleport me into the future so I can get my hands on the book now.
Recommended for 8+.
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