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Queen of Muck by Isaac Thackray

Isaac Thackray’s debut YA novel is absolutely fantastic. A funny, exciting and adventurous ride through lands with memorable characters and original story lines.

Lucy and Lily are sisters who have a great fondness for their grandfather - who has gone missing. It seems that no matter where they look for him he just isn’t to be found. A chance encounter with a postcard gives them the direction they need to find the ‘hardly open bookshop’ where they meet an abrupt shopkeeper. It seems finally they are able to find themselves transported to the magical land of Florez. It’s a beautiful place with tranquil pastures and talking foxes - only, things aren’t all they seem.

The Queen of Muck has taken over much of what has made this world magical and wondrous. Her version of wonderful things includes poorly tuned instruments playing both out of time and out of key. She also has a tendency for being ill when things look or sound pleasant or, heaven forbid, even beautiful. And she has Lucy and Lily’s grandfather captive.

The girls must work together with their newly found friends in order to save their grandfather from his fate. Have they got the support to do it? And how exactly is that even going to work?

Part mystery, part adventure, part C.S. Lewis, part Roald Dahl, part J.K. Rowling, part Greek myth, this book has so much going for it. There is much to like as a child or a parent in this wonderfully written modern fairy tale. Thackray has drawn on his experiences as a freelance copywriter and his love for reading children’s books to his daughters and created something quite special. Sitting at the top of the pile is that this is funny. It has a laugh out loud factor to it.

In addition, the illustrations by Millie Perocheau are quite something and the combination of the story and the illustrations has a definite Dahl and Blake-esque feel to it - but also uniquely new and exciting.

Thackray, in his debut, has created a corker of a novel. Here’s hoping there are many more adventures for the two brave and industrious sisters.

Reviewer: Chris Reed

Mary Egan Publishing


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