Sky Pirates, Echo Quickthorn and the Great Beyond by Alex English

Written by Alex English, Illustrated by Mark Chambers
Publishing by Simon and Schuster, August 2020

Buckle up for one heck of a ride!

Echo is adventurous, impetuous and constantly in trouble with the king. She is not one to sit quietly and embroider pillows when there are sights to see and corridors to explore, not to mention wishing she were living outside the castle walls in the city with other children. Constantly accompanied by Gilbert, her faithful and loyal lizard pet, the pair get up to all sorts of trouble. Echo is a ward of the king, having been abandoned as a baby. Living in a city in lockdown (how very apt), Echo is warned that nothing exists outside the city walls, nothing but the barren, a wasteland that no one could survive in.
King Alfons has declared the walls will remain locked until such time as his prophecy comes true. “When Tuesday arrives on a Sunday, when a she-wolf soars by dragon flight, when the king’s blood turns from red to white, then the gates of Lockfort shall open.”

Waking one evening, Echo is surprised to find a sky ship stuck on the castle. Helping to rescue the ship and its only passenger brings valuable information and trouble to the kingdom. Professor Daggerwing imparts the truth- that there is a much larger world outside the city, and proves it with a map- plenty of new places, city names and the sea can be seen but can they be believed? Echo devours this information and is keen to learn more but the Professor is captured, the sky ship hidden and the map destroyed.
Echo’s inner adventurous spirit is properly awakened and she can think of nothing but the world she is missing, the rescue of the Professor and the chance to travel on a sky ship. Of course, escape will not be easy but we know never to underestimate children!

This is Echo’s only chance to find answers to her life long questions and search for her mother. Echo knows nothing of her mother but she was left with a pin bearing a jewellers mark. Thrilled when her rescue and travel on the sky ship are successful, Echo is prepared for anything- except for a stowaway. “Pudding hearted” Prince Horace has tagged along for the journey by accident and now he is here believes he must convince Echo to come back to the castle.

Finding refuge with the Professor in Port Tourbillon, Echo and Horace are introduced to the world outside their city walls. New faces, new mechanisms and incredible opportunities are offered. Echo sets off on a mission to learn about the pin, however a chase from the Queen’s guard soon puts an end to finding easy answers. A quick getaway on the sky ship, Hummerbird is in order.

A forced landing, help from a flying woman and giant man eating flowers await Echo and Horace in the next phase of their adventure. Throughout their time in Port Tourbillon, Echo is warmed about a band of dangerous and dastardly sky pirates, The Black Sky Wolf Pirates. Rumoured to be the worst there is, Echo comes to believe her mother is imprisoned by them. Not one to shy from danger, Echo heads straight towards their last sighting, accompanied by Horace, who is proving to be more courageous than initially thought.

The first meeting with the pirates is unexpected, and meeting Captain Indigo Lil is full of fear, until formal introductions are made and celebrations are in order!

When all the pieces start to fall into place and a sense of belonging and happiness come together, there is the inevitable trouble! As they are all captured and thrown into the dungeons of Lockfort, Echo begins to lose hope. It is Horace, who rekindles her adventurous spirit and the two hatch an escape plan!

This is such a thrilling adventure- featuring a feisty girl intent on finding answers and exploring the world! It also features a boy with hidden courage, family reunions and secrets shared. Prophecies told, adventures had and kingdoms found.
Sheer brilliance!


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