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Adventure, excitement, intrigue: Vashti Hardy creates stories of cinematic scope. 'Darkwhispers', like its predecessor 'Brightstorm', is a rollicking good read; fantastic escapism of the highest order! In difficult times, be swept away on a journey full of marvels, thrills and hope.


Arthur and Maudie Brightstorm are off on another adventure on the sky-ship Aurora with Harriet Culpepper and her charming crew. This time the distinguished adventurer Ermitage Wrigglesworth has gone missing far beyond the East. The evil Eudora Vane wants to find him too, but why? What has Ermitage found and what will it mean for the First Continent, the Aurora crew and the Brightstorms?


In many ways I enjoyed this even more than 'Brightstorm'. This is a sequel willing to take risks and push what we know about Hardy's hugely exciting world to the limits, quite literally. Hardy's imagination is truly blossoming here and it's just a joy to read; the story grows and flowers with breathtaking beauty and drama. There is only one other story I can compare this to and that is 'The Voyage of the Dawntreader' by C.S.Lewis. Both books dare to take the reader to the edge of all things, across the ocean, and see what resides in the imagination there. For Hardy, there is a greater environmental message. But unlike other, perhaps more sombre books on the subject, 'Darkwhispers' presents us with an alternative reality of how to live with nature more fruitfully and harmoniously. I won't say more without spoiling the plot, but there is a massive jungle of hope here - brilliantly described and bursting with ideas. On top of this, Hardy manages to create yet another pacy story with wonderful characterization while dangling mysteries to keep you reading and swinging  with very little effort. Hardy knows how to tantalize and excite her readers while writing with a cinematic vision brimming with colour and possibilities. 

I really really enjoyed this. Hardy's books are pure escapism and oh how we need this right now! I'm certain every child would want to be friends with Arthur and Maudie and set off on adventures with them - I definitely do! I might have said this before but Hardy seems to offer something between Pullman and Rowling, and with her recent Blue Peter win I think she is destined for further success to emulate the very best in children's fiction.

Keep doing what you're doing, you Golden Egg!

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