Published 22 August 2019 by David Fickling Books

This stunning cover is holding onto a secret…..a brilliant story!

I requested this book from the lovely folk at David Fickling books and I am so glad they sent it along to me.

The cover is alluring and the blurb on the back made it even more irresistible. Thanks to jet lag, I am awake at odd hours and tired at others so this kept me awake and happy this evening.

We meet Clementine, a young girl with rather large ears and very short hair. She is locked in a basement room with only a bed for company. Clementine, unfortunately, lives with her fiendish Aunt and Uncle., Vermilia and Rufus. They treat her horribly- forcing her to do all the housework, locking her in a basement and rarely feeding her. They are pretty scary to look at as well! Her one companion is a white cat named Gilbert. He avoids the adults and listens well to Clementine.

Throughout the story, as a reader, you are asking where her parents are, why are the aunt and uncle so cruel and why is she always locked away? Well one day, she is forced to clean up after a long night of her aunt shooting lead bullets everywhere. She finally gets a chance to snoop around. She discovers a window and the sky and begins to dream of a magic place, with mountains, fields and heather.

Clementine also uncovers a secret…..she is living with a pair of incredibly experienced thieves! The attic is stuffed full of their spoils. She also finds a stuffed rabbit who seems so familiar to her.

The plot thickens with the arrival of a colourful young man clearly searching for something, stopping everyone on the streets, including the Aunt and Uncle. They escape in time but they are clearly who he is looking for.

Vermilia and Rufus try to avoid the young man and almost succeed until an incident featuring sausage links, a broken pocket and a stampede of dogs. It is actually quite comical. What happens next leads us on a chimney chase across the city.

This book is completely delightful, it had me hooked from the first line, desperate to learn about Clementine, hopeful for a happy ending and worried there wouldn’t be one! I loved Gilbert and wished for him to help Clementine, to lead her to safety and into the arms of family.

It has a Victorian feel to it with the clothing, the orphan and presence of so many chimneys. It also made me think of The Twits and their tricks and antics, although Vermilia is largely violent and more scarier than Mrs Twit.

The story is excellent but I must admit, the illustrations truly shape the characters and ensure we can see clearly all that is happening. Brilliant drawings throughout the whole book, all done by Chris Wormell.

I can see this being incredibly popular and recommend it for 8+!

Go on, buy it, you know you want to!

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