Thank you to Simon and Schuster Children’s UK and Netgalley for the review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Book: Sky Pirates: Echo Quickthorn and the Great Beyond by Alex English
Release Date: August 5th 2020
Tags: Fantasy | Middle Grade | Adventure | Steampunk | Sky Pirates | Finding Yourself | Search for Parents
11 year-old Echo Quickthorn has grown up believing that nothing exists outside the Kingdom of Albion, but everything changes when an eccentric professor parks his airship outside her window armed with a map that shows all the magical places that exist beyond the city walls. Together with her pet lizard, Gilbert, Echo sets off on an incredible adventure to find her missing mother; an adventure that will take her to unimaginable places …
Sky Pirates is a lovely adventure middle grade read with steampunk elements, present adults (well to a point) and a way to finding oneself at the young age of 11.
The kingdom of Albion is a small place, like a big city, that is completely surrounded by walls and one big gate that never opens. It keeps the nothingness of the beyond out of the kingdom. Echo is the ward to the king but has never felt quite at home in Albion. Nobody looks like her. The restrictiveness of her life makes her act out in various ways. But then an air ship is parked next to her window, and it is the onset to a great adventure alongside her pet lizard, Gilbert.
The story starts us within the walls of the castle of the Kingdom of Albion and I could very much understand why Echo so desperately wanted to leave because it was such a drag. There was very little about Albion that felt appealing except its history with the outside world that the king says does not exist. You fall of the world when you go to The Great Beyond.
It did create a bit of a dragging start to the book however. I wasn’t quite sold on the book until Echo actually left with the sky ship and we really got to the wonders of the world. However I do think that it was necessary to show the world Echo and her companions were coming from. The rest of the world was filled with wonders of the world with still so much left to be discovered in future books in this adventure series.
But the book was about finding one’s place. Echo only knows she was left on the step of the castle with a special kind of hair pin. She goes out in search of anyone who knows her parents in The Great Beyond. Echo is a typical 11 year old that just wants to know who she is. Head strong and impulsive, she always judges the world by her own standards and doesn’t always understand how things are different for others. Like her companion Horace, the king’s son. That is something that slowly changes for her.
Horace has been shaped to be a certain way as the future king. He is a true bookworm and not used to standing up for himself or anyone else. He was raised to follow orders and just do as he is told. Going along on Echo’s adventure challenged everything he knew and it helped him grow as a person.
As for the adults, while they are there. Of course the kids are there with the ideas and saving the day and all, as it should be with a middle grade novel. But they were never truly without an adult to back them up and I enjoyed that. The professor takes them in after The Great Beyond and when they need to run he runs right alongside with them. When they get captured the adult sky pirates are alongside of them, trying to protect.
So Sky Pirates is for sure a fun middle grade and I can’t wait to see what other adventures there are in store for Echo.