A quest for truth sparks a hunt for a legendary hoard of magical treasures.
I was absolutely thrilled to be sent a copy of this middle grade book prior to publication and to be asked to kick off James Haddell’s blog tour. As a primary school Reading Lead, I am always on the lookout for high quality, high-interest children’s books and this ticks all the boxes! I can’t wait to share it with my class.
When James first contacted me, he described this story as, ‘The first instalment in a series about an orphaned girl, her search for answers about her past, and the adventures this leads her on. Her search for answers ignites with the arrival of a sinister stranger and a move to a new home: Stormhaven Castle, where unravelling mysteries of the past is part of everyday life.’ I was sold immediately! An adventure story with a strong female protagonist and a Castle thrown into the mix? Who wouldn’t be?
From the moment I met Tia Hemyke, I was completely drawn into her story. Tia is an orphan – she knows nothing of her past and her only clues are a collection of mysterious objects that were left with her when she was a baby. Right at the beginning of the story the mood is quiet and thoughtful. We learn that she is about to embark on a new life with Mr and Mrs Trevelyan who are to become her new mum and dad.
Very quickly however, the pace quickens and the story explodes! Within just a few pages, the ‘sinister stranger’ mentioned above bursts on to the scene. Mr Silverman clearly has an ulterior motive for turning up at Mrs Davidson’s home for orphaned girls, and he seems strangely interested in the pendant Tia is wearing around her neck… Tia escapes him, but not before Mr Silverman throws the name ‘Geoffrey Hemyke’ at her, which, as a child desperate to understand her past, understandably sparks Tia’s interest. And this is where the ‘quest’ in the title begins.
Mr and Mrs Trevelyan take Tia to live in the idyllic sounding Stormhaven Castle. We learn that this castle is steeped in history, having ‘been home to warlords, kings, knights and sorcerers… nowadays it is home to a community of archaeologists and historians who are trying to unlock the hidden secrets of its past.’ What better place for Tia to explore her past and her possible link to eminent historian, Geoffrey Hemyke? She learns that he is believed to have unearthed ‘the secret of a long lost medieval hoard of treasure…’ This piques Tia’s interest. Could this hoard of treasure be linked to the mysterious artefacts she was left with as a baby?
Tia has help in her quest from her new sister Meghan and the new friends she makes at Stormhaven Castle School of Exploration and Discovery (I mean, what a name!). Her adventure will turn out to be dangerous and of course, things do not quite go to plan…
James, as a teacher himself, understands how hard it can be to keep children’s interest in a story. The fast pace of this story along with all the twists and turns are bound to keep even the most reluctant reader engaged. There are plenty of opportunities for discussion along the way and James has even included discussion prompts for each chapter at the back of the book.
Lastly, he has expertly combined fiction with historical detail. I had no idea until the end, for example, that several of the artefacts mentioned in the story are real or that The Thirteen Treasures of Britain are a series of items described in late medieval Welsh manuscripts. This level of detail adds a depth to the story that I was not expecting and which is guaranteed to fascinate readers of all ages. I absolutely cannot wait to see where he takes Tia next.
The Lost Child’s Quest – Tales of Truth & Treasure Book 1 – by James Haddell is out on Friday 4th December and can be pre-ordered from Emira Press. It will be available on Amazon from the day of publication.