'The Strangeworlds Travel Agency' is immense fun. Packed full of ideas and glittering with magical invention, this is a book to eagerly dive into, very much like the suitcases described for travelling across worlds . If you love 'Doctor Who' then you'll in a for a treat with L.D. Lapinski's playful and charming debut.
Twelve-year-old Flick Hudson discovers a peculiar shop in the new town she's moved to: 'The StrangeWorlds Travel Agency'. Hungry to travel and desperate to leave her busy home behind, Flick is soon invited to join the secret society of 'StrangeWorlds'; a centuries old group set up to protect and traverse the multiverse. But the current custodian of the society, an eighteen-year-old boy called Jonathan, is harbouring a secret. And with the magical multiverses in some kind of danger too, what can Flick do and can she truly trust anyone in any world?
Finishing this book is like dizzily exiting a wild-ride at the best theme park ever, with a big smile on your face. A lot happens and there's a lot to digest, and questions are also left hanging. It's fair to say then that this feels very much like a big set-up for a series, and there's nothing wrong about that. I really enjoyed the build-up and learning more about the StrangeWorlds Society and the multiverse as Flick does. Like with stories such as 'The Storm Keeper's Island', I love the nuanced and surprising balance between magical aspects and Flick's fairly mundane reality. In a few pages we're whisked off to a vibrant world only to return to toddler nappies and ordinary family routines. It reminds me of what Doctor Who used to do so well: an adventure across space and time to return to an estate for some fish and chips.
I also really liked the relationship between Flick and Jonathan, a boy on the cusp of adulthood as Flick is on the cusp of adolescence. It will be interesting to see how this dynamic changes in future books. There are still pretty huge questions about both characters, and there are many hints for future plot-points. But this makes for a lot of excitement, thrills and adventure, and a lot to eagerly anticipate.
Order a copy, join the society, and dive-in to this rollicking adventure - just forget your way home!