It's my stop on the blog tour for Amy Sparkes' wonderfully fun 'The Tower at the End of Time'. Safe to say, I enjoyed this even more than 'The House at the Edge of Magic' with my review of that and a link to last year's feature from Amy Sparkes here.
Free of the curse on their magical house, Nine and her eccentric new friends are able to once again travel the multiple worlds. One problem: the house has a bout of incredibly annoying hiccups. Flabberghast tries everything to steady their home, but the only solution seems to be to compete in the Wizarding Hopscotch Championships because winning that means getting to Ask any question at the Tower at the End of Time. Spoon wants to ask a question about finding Dish, though. And Nine, having just taken up residence in the house, has questions about her past and who she really is...
There is so much here that reminds me of Terry Pratchett, which is great because as a child I loved his madcap books too. Amy Sparkes' imagination has no bounds, ensuring a story that is eccentrically unpredictable, hilarious and just huge amounts of fun. I loved the conceit that the house has hiccups and that each one sends them popping up in different bizarre worlds. This is like having the Tardis grow into a massive, ramshackle house and hiccuping the Doctor and his companions all over the place; in this case it happens to be an inept wizard in charge. Oh how I love Flabberghast as a kind of relation to Pratchett's Rincewind!
Arguably, this is a story about making mistakes in the midst of chaos but trying your best and then working as a team to make things right. The hopscotch championship is one of the most ludicrously brilliant ideas I have come across and somehow so vivid in my head. Move over Quidditch! Towards the finale, the labyrinthine action that takes place in the Tower at the End of Time is relentless good fun too, and the sense of time trickling away adds an edge of peril that keeps you reading on. Sparkes has written about her use of time, and the personal connection to countdowns, in a fascinating blog post with Rich Readalot: https://twitter.com/richreadalot/status/1485870125475631105
Underneath the adrenaline rush of action against the clock is also a tenderness, an emotional heart. Nine is our hero here, a Dickensian pickpocket now navigating her way through worlds of magic with a yearning to belong and be whole again. She has a her own questions to ask the tower and it is this which we are rooting for. I can't wait to learn even more about Nine in future books!
Thank you to @WalkerBooks for the book to review and for the chance to participate in this blog tour.