Member Reviews

DNF. I couldn't connect with this book at all and found it really hard to get into. I had high hopes for this, which is a shame.

Was this review helpful?

After reading and enjoying Everdark was pleased to get this on NetGalley. However, I found it easier to read in paperback. Looking forward to reading Jungledrop later this year

Was this review helpful?

Rumblestar is a very enjoyable middle grade adventure romp that sits comfortably between classic fantasy and quirky. It's somewhere in the vein of The Phantom Tollbooth or The Wizard of Oz - a journey with a selection of strange characters that turns out to have been full of self-discovery along the way. It should be a huge hit with children and adults alike, and I'm looking forward to the sequel!

Was this review helpful?

This book was loved by my 11-year-old daughter. She said the characters were amazing and the scenes described so vibrant she throughout enjoyed the book and will read more by this author.

Was this review helpful?

Another fantastic adventure from Abi Elphinstone! A captivating adventure with an important message . I really enjoyed this exciting, gripping page turner.

Was this review helpful?

This zips along at a speedy pace. It's a lovely, heart-warming story of overcoming fears and of self-empowerment. Kids of around 10 years old will love it.

Was this review helpful?

I loved this book! Filled to brim with adventure, the story simply oozes with courage and kindness. I loved how Utterly, Casper and Arlo all went on their own journeys throughout the book but how they were all so completely intertwined. Can't wait to go back to visit the other Unmapped Kingdoms soon!

Was this review helpful?

Exceptionally well written & imaginative fantasy adventure which draws comparisons with both Dahl and CS Lewis but is also really wonderful in its own right. Totally immersive & gripping, its something special for top Key Stage 2 readers. I loved it!

Was this review helpful?

Simply breathtakingly delightful! There is nothing better than a new book from Abi Elphinstone but there is extra reason to celebrate when you know it's the beginning of a magical new series, and it didn't disappoint. Casper, friend Utterly Thankless and dragon Arlo team up on an enchanting adventure full of mayhem with a positive message about stepping outside your comfort zone, the power of friendship and how the good must fight against evildoers for the sake of humanity. Elphinstone is undoubtedly one of the best middle-grade writers around at the moment and this is such a compelling and wonderfully immersive read.

The world of Rumblestar is rich, vivid and mesmerising but there are dangers lurking just out of sight. Casper and Utterly are both engaging characters who forge a friendship despite being like chalk and cheese. Each is courageous and loyal and I found them both likeable and believable. There are words of wisdom interspersed throughout about a variety of different topics to provide food for thought for young readers. With magical creatures, plenty of excitement and adventure, humour, twisty surprises, quirky characters, dangerous situations and richly imagined landscapes, what more could you wish for in a fantasy novel? Many thanks to Simon & Schuster UK Children's for an ARC.

Was this review helpful?

A treat for fans of adventure, fantasy worlds and unlikely heroes. These are fast paced and inventive stories written with energy and humour. In Rumblestar and its World Book Day prequel, Everdark, we learn that the accepted version of the world coming into being through the Big Bang is one more thing (alongside bedtimes and vegetables) that grown ups have got all wrong. Our continents are instead the seven tears of a Phoenix and known as the Faraway and sustained by the secret Unmapped Kingdoms of Rumblestar, Crackledawn, Jungledrop and Silvercrag which are formed out of four golden phoenix feathers. Each Kingdom generates its own marvels – Crackledawn, sunshine; Jungledrop, rain; Silvercrag, snow – which are collected by the Unmappers of Rumblestar to write weather scrolls sent to the Faraway as part of a carefully balanced magical ecosystem that sustains life and light in both the Unmapped Kingdoms and the Faraway. This delicate balance is put in danger when the harpy Morag sabotages the Phoenix’s rebirth providing the opportunity for some unlikely heroes and friendships to emerge and defend the kingdoms.

As with Elphinstone’s previous books, Skysong and The Dreamsnatcher trilogy, the Unmapped Kingdoms are carefully and powerfully drawn. She has talked about how she literally maps out her stories and the worlds they inhabit, drawing the landscapes and her characters’ paths through them. That really shows here. Although complicated, the story is never lost in the explanation of the worlds – we are drawn through them by the journeys and quests the characters must complete. Her characters aren’t obvious heroes, Smudge is dyslexic and mocked by her peers for her failures at school, Caspar is anxious, lonely and bullied, and Utterly Thankless holds the anger and grief inside her which explodes out in unpredictable ways, but as she says ‘the truly extraordinary people in this world – the ones who defeat monsters and save kingdoms – are, very often, the ones that nobody notices at first‘.

Rumblestar is funnier than her earlier books with witty asides and word play, which reminded me of the Phantom Tollbooth. There are references to CS Lewis in the text and echos of Narnia in the world building. It doesn’t have Narnia’s religious overtones but there are strong themes around the value of friendship and believing in yourself, facing up to fears and persisting, and learning how to say sorry and how to accept an apology (if I had one niggle – and it is a small one – it would be that these are sometimes spelled out more explicitly than needed). The next book in The Unmapped Chronicles will be about Jungledrop and is due out in 2020. Although each book in the series is going to be linked (the evil Morag features in all of them and there will be some minor crossover of characters) they are also designed to stand alone.

These would be great class books, with lots of cliffhanger endings to chapters and ideas to explore further. Everdark stands on its own and is short enough to read and see if there is an appetite for more. There is a scheme of work for schools on Elphinstone’s website and some excellent resources on Authorfy (subscription needed) where Elphinstone discusses the inspiration behind the book, how she wrote it and what is planned for the series.

I am looking forward to the next one…

Was this review helpful?

Weather wizardry and meteorological magic.

Casper is being bullied at the boarding school where he lives.. He relies on lists and routines to get him through difficult days. The days are being made even more difficult by terrible weather events that are happening all over the planet.

That is until he hides from the rich bullies and ends up being arrested by strong willed Utterly who comes from another world and ends up on a quest to help save both worlds.

This is a book full of magical and memorable characters like the miniature dragon, Arlo ; vegan, mindful snow trolls a balloon with a soul, There's also the evil harpy, Morg...
Like the magical adventure of the Wizard of Oz Casper needs to find courage and friendship, What does Utterly need to find?

This has underlying messages about climate change but is an exciting magical adventure in the vein of The Wizard of O.z. Elphinstone has left an opening for more Unmapped Lands tales to come...

Was this review helpful?

I love the story itself, the imagination that has created Rumblestar and the Unmapped Kingdoms. There are adventures to be had and new places to be discovered, foes have to be defeated and new friends are being made as the magical landscape, tools and tricks of the trade of the Unmapped Kingdoms is discovered by Casper Tock a boy who happens into this other layer of reality, just by happenstance, or not?

It is a very lively book that takes you constantly to new places, demands that you wrap your head around new concepts and ideas and for this I love this book. It is full of magic and fun and yet it is scary and dark at times as well.

Casper is not really a happy boy when we meet him at the beginning of the book. He is constantly bullied by the school's bullies, who both have very telling names, as most characters do have in this book. Despite his defensive measures, like making to do lists and skipping lessons in order to avoid them and keeping generally a very tight, orderly schedule, they manage ever so often to corner him. He is very diminished in his being, just trying to keep things together when we first meet him. And then this adventure happens upon him. Just like that. And things start to change.

It is scary and dangerous and a lot depends on what he and Utterly Thankless figure out in order to keep things right in the Unmapped Kingdoms and subsequently also in the Faraway, where Casper normally lives. But it is also hilarious, the journey he undertakes with Utterly and Arlo - yes, there are dragons in this book, how could they not - and discovers amazing new places, meets new friends and conquers his fears.

At the end of the book he has a completely different outlook on life and it remains to be seen what happens next as the story is not over, not by far.

Both main characters in this book are kids that do not really fit in. Both have had traumatic experiences they are still reeling from when they meet each other. With each other and going onto this epic adventure, they come to accept each other as they are and both finally can start to live their strengths and build on them. It is a book about what loneliness and isolation can do to you and how friendship can solve a lot of the knots that might have built up and, of course an adventure that breaks you out of your every day routines, whatever they are.

There is of course the playing around with words and creating new words and new meanings. I am a sucker for it and I loved these parts of the book most specifically.

And then, of course, there are the doors. So many doors. And you have got to choose. And the choice is yours. Yours only.

All in all Rumblestar is a fantastic, magical story about adventure, friendship and and all that makes life worthwhile.

I got this eArc from the publishers via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

You can judge a book by its cover! The dazzling cover illustration by Carrie May, with its title picked out in gold, reflects the brilliance of this author’s imagination, as once again we are invited into an alternative reality created by Abi Elphinstone.

From the opening lines of the prologue I was gripped by the magnificent story-telling. Firstly a quick re-capping of the events of “Everdark” and then into the Rumblestar adventure where we are introduced to timid, bullied Casper Tock, who gets through life relying on timetables and “to do” lists. He has become expert in hiding from the entitled bullies at his boarding school, but slipping inside the case of a grandfather clock one afternoon causes an “ Extremely Unpredictable Event” to occur!

He finds himself arrested by a small, impulsive girl called Utterly Thankless and taken to Rumblestar where the “marvels” containing all the wondrous ingredients required to write the weather scrolls for The Faraway (earth) are being destroyed by dark forces. When Utterly realises that she has mistakenly identified Casper as the criminal, the two of them have to escape the castle accompanied only by Arlo, a miniature dragon, in order to save Rumblestar from the “Midnights” controlled by Morg the Harpy. Their epic adventure leads to encounters with cloud giants, drizzle hags, snow trolls and storm ogres as they seek to destroy the sinister Midnights who are threatening the very existence of Rumblestar and all the Unmapped Kingdoms and consequently The Faraway.

As their quest unfolds these two hugely appealing protagonists have to overcome their deepest fears and exhibit inner reserves of bravery and selflessness, aided by some of the magical creatures they encounter. The change in their characters seems entirely organic and believable as their friendship develops.

This is honestly my "Book of the Year" so far and I can't wait to put it into the hands of our many Abi Elphinstone fans in the school library! Her ability to conjure imaginative worlds, populated by incredible, but simultaneously believable, characters knows no bounds. You can guarantee that reading this book will bring hours of pleasure, and cause you to reflect on the true meaning of wealth, the destructive nature of greed and the hope that is conjured when people behave courageously.

A must-read for everyone over 10 years-old!.

Was this review helpful?

Abi Elphinstone has created an entrancingly rich and magical world for her two main characters, Utterly Thankless and Casper Tock, to travel through as they embark on an Utterly Thrilling adventure in the Unmapped Kingdom of Rumblestar.

There are so many lovely quirky and original details which bring Rumblestar to zesty, colourful life. There is also a host of wonderful supporting characters, from an oversensitive dragon to a balloon with a somewhat arch sense of humour to the yucky drizzle hags. The dreaded Midnights provide a nice layer of scariness for the reader to shiver at.

The story has a deeper heart to it too. Alongside all the outward adventure, Utterly and Casper have their own emotional journeys which deal with issues like depression and anxiety and the healing power of friendship in an extremely thoughtful but light touch way.

Children will love this book, I recommend it wholeheartedly!

Was this review helpful?

From the beginning I have been a huge fan of Abi Elphinstone’s stories but RUMBLESTAR is her best book yet! … Although I’m sure I said the same thing about her last release, however this authors writing just keeps getting better.

RUMBLESTAR follows Casper, a list-making, time-keeping, rule-obeying boy who suddenly finds him thrust into a magical world where nothing is neat or orderly. All he wants is to return home, and to do that his only hope lies in teaming up with Utterly Thankless, a wilful girl with a penchant for getting into trouble alongside her tiny dragon, Arlo.

Together the trio are forced on an adventure to protect their worlds from an evil harpy and her army of Midnights. Armed with only their wits and a well-stocked canoe, they must face down magical beings, navigate impossible weather and decipher the most-tricksy of riddles if they are to succeed. Yet the Harpy is cunning, and she will do anything to stop Casper and his friends from disrupting her plans!

To say it simply - this book was amazing! Imagination and creativity at its finest, these pages hold a might of magic and brilliance, bringing to life a fantastical world full of unique characters.

I loved both Casper and Utterly who are total opposites in every way. Watching their friendship grow was heartwarming, and I thought they balanced out each other’s strengths and weaknesses perfectly. And for everything else there was Arlo, the cutest, cleverest dragon in all of Rumblestar.

However all the characters in this book were well thought out and added extra humour or malice to the story. Definite shout out to the trolls, cloud giants and Zip, the best hot air balloon ever made… I hope we see all these characters again soon!

The plot is also very fast paced. Jumping for problem to problem, the author pushes the characters to be brave and find the strength to battle onward. The story is also centred strongly on the bonds of friendship and trust, and overall I thought everything was excellent. I simply cannot praise this book enough.

Smooth and utterly satisfying! An easy 5 star read!

Was this review helpful?

The world of Rumblestar draws readers in to a place of magic and wonder populated by richly drawn characters in a fanciful landscape. Abi Elphinstone does world building brilliantly!
Casper has created a kind of safety for himself in his life by enforcing routines...rigid sticking to timetables and habits, and by skulking from hiding place to hiding place avoiding bullies. His is a grey half- life and his unexpected transportation to Rumblestar teaches him a new way of being (through his ‘acquaintance’ then proper friendship with Utterly Thankless -a considerably more rumbustious, risk-taking kind of girl!)
Together Casper, Utterly and her charmingly tiny dragon Arlo embark on an adventure which will correct the balance in both their worlds. They encounter amazing characters- some considerably more helpful than others- and through peril and rescue build a life affirming friendship that changes both of them into a truer version of themselves where hiding away is no longer an option.
This is a fabulous book with themes of friendship, loyalty, tolerance and courage. It is wildly imaginative and told with great humour- even the character names make you laugh. It is a book that teachers like me across the land will eagerly seize upon to share with their classes! Thank you Abi Elphinstone, I can’t wait for the next instalment!
With thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Absolutely brilliant, my favourite Abi Elphinstone book yet! Packed with the quirky characters, tantalising settings and twisting plotlines that are so typical of this clever author, yet Rumblestar takes a different path and explores the realm of magic and fantasy. Two unlikely heroes, alienated from their peers by their lack of visible prowess and conventional talent, embark upon a friendship that crosses worlds in their adventure to save the universe (that's not quite as we know it) from the evil machinations of Morg and her minions. Beautifully narrated and skilfully crafted, this is a novel that would engage any young adult, whether it be a class of curious and capable year 6s or fluent readers at Key Stage 3. Highly recommended by an avid reader!

Was this review helpful?

Adventure, magic and fantasy,  combine with generous helpings of perilous situations,  personal bravery and plenty of humour. If this were the Great British Book Off, then 'Rumblestar' would be the stand out showstopper.

Was this review helpful?

I absolutely relished the deliciously rich, breath-taking world of Rumblestar which invites the reader to savour its many wonders, including the landscape of floating clouds, spectacular castle and magical creatures.
Casper Tock is living in Faraway (our World), which is being devastated by very unusual weather conditions. He is trying to escape from school bullies when he inadvertently unlocks the way to Rumblestar, one of the Unmapped Kingdoms, which is being threatened by an old enemy.
There he meets the irrepressible, and brilliantly named, Utterly Thankless who promptly arrests him … and shortly after rescues him. And so begins their incredible adventure into The Beyond where they meet magical creatures including the delightfully creepy drizzle hags and the kind-hearted, new-age snow trolls.
Their daring mission to attempt to save both their worlds is full of fast-paced action, tension which ebbs and flows with magical ease interspersed with humour and the realisation of a deep friendship.
I adored both Casper and Utterly, and her delightfully sensitive, brave and clever, dragon, Arlo. Casper hates taking risks and loves nothing better than lists, routines and regimented organisation. Utterly is a quick-witted rule-breaker with a penchant for recklessness. And yet, each is just what the other needs. Together, they build a heart-warming friendship forged in adventure, honesty, loyalty and courage – and brilliant one-liners!
This is a real marvel of a story: an enchanting read, brimming with adventure, nuggets of wisdom and a testament to the power of friendship. I am excited to share Rumblestar with my class who I know will adore Casper, Utterly and Arlo as much as I did.
Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for an e-ARC of Rumblestar.

Was this review helpful?

Abi Elphinstone is a master storyteller and Rumblestar is perfect.

Caspar, gets bullied at school and has no friends. Not that his timetable allows for friendship but he craves it nonetheless.
Utterly, has a storm brewing inside her due to a loss and pushes away anyone who tries to break through to her.

These two unlikely children, and a small dragon named Arlo, must save Rumblestar and ultimately, the Faraway! No easy task, especially with obstacles such as cloud giants, midnights and drizzle hags to work around.

There are so many wonderful moments in this book, full of bravery from unlikely hero Caspar, emotional breakthroughs with storm ridden Utterly, and a first fire breath from Arlo to power Zip, the amazing hot air balloon.

I just can’t say more or else it will give away valuable parts of the story that need to be read!

I do love the potential for more in the series, the links to the past of Smudge and Bartholomew, and the unexpected friends you meet along the way!

One of the best books of the year! I predict great things for this series!

Was this review helpful?