'Clifftoppers' by Fleur Hitchcock is a fantastic series and one I'm enjoying more and more. This page reviews 'Clifftoppers' 2 & 3, although technically they can be read as standalones and out of sequence - so if you haven't read any of them yet, plunge in anywhere. They're all great!
My review of 'The Arrowhead Moor Adventure' is here: https://www.chrissoul.co.uk/clifftoppers-arrowhead-moor-adventu
Aiden, Chloe, Ava and Josh are cousins who spend their holidays at their grandparents' cottage in the countryside, by moors and beaches and ancient stones. Every time they stay an exciting adventure ensues, with diamond thieves, lost sheep, unexpected fires, kidnappings and much more.
I love the 'Clifftoppers' series simply because of how it makes me feel. Adventure cracks on at a thrilling pace, but the stories feel open and free, like gulping in fresh air. Simple but therapeutic. I grew up on the coastlines of Cornwall and Scotland and Fleur Hitchcock just seems to conjure up that magic feeling of being free as a child; of escapism, of being in nature and of being with your friends (just look at those joyous covers). And Hitchcock does this with a sparsity of prose which is direct but beautiful and gripping - I honestly don't know how she does it. Within a couple of sentences you're whisked away to the glorious setting of Fire Bay and then you're hit with a mystery and off you go: the adventure begins. Aiden, Chloe, Ava and Josh make for a great team, and after reading three of the series I feel I know them really well. The dialogue between them is spot-on and propels the story on with great skill. Josh, though, is my favourite. Without him, I'm not sure any of the adventures would truly begin. He represents every child's enthusiasm and daring and moral standing. Go Josh!
Like the 'Famous Five', these books evoke a simpler time. Conveniently Fire Bay and the surrounding area (see the fab new map in the latest installment) have terrible phone signal allowing for good-old fashioned detective storytelling. This is an analogue little world to escape in to and its a real joy. In 'The Fire Bay Adventure' there is a historical twist to the tale with a finale involving rolling fiery barrels - great fun! 'The Thorn Island Adventure' is much more of a direct cat and mouse chase - also great fun! Both brilliantly balance mystery, action, humour and warmth with just a hint of horror - like the supernatural could seep in at the edges at any point, but never quite does, to reader's relief. There is never a dull moment in 'Clifftoppers' and having read two back-to-back I feel like I'm binge-reading a terrific series that I don't want to see end. Please I want the next one and the next! They become addictive reads, which is helped by their short lengths.
'Clifftoppers' is perfect escapism for locked-in kids. Be whisked off on action-packed adventures out in the countryside with a team of super friends - what more could children want to read while being stuck indoors?
Thank you to Samantha Thomas for the copy of 'The Thorn Island Adventure' to review and thanks to Nosy Crow for the other copies. Brilliant stuff!