Author: PG Bell
Publisher: Usborne Publishing
Details: 368pp, £12.99, hardback
Suzy Smith, no-nonsense physics aficionado, is woken in the middle of the night by the strange sound of metal on metal. Creeping downstairs, she sees her parents fast asleep on the sofa, and a troll building train tracks through her hallway. The Train To Impossible Places – a magnificent steam engine, driven by another troll, a bear, and pulling a mail carriage and the postmaster behind it – must take a diversion through Suzy's house.
I love Suzy's scientific curiosity; her drive to find out and make sense of this new world is irresistible. As readers, we run to keep up with every twist and turn and gravity inversion of this strange and brilliant new world. The world-building is superb, vivid and well realised, filled with fascinating delivery stops: magic towers, a watery grave, a troll town under a bridge, all packed with characters you would love to meet.
Crepuscula, the villain, is convincingly scary – the sense of menace drives the pace at breakneck speed, full steam ahead. But for all that, the plot never feels out of control or rushed. We return from our travels exhilarated, satisfied and, I must point out, very pleased to find mum and dad still fast asleep on the sofa.
It is a distinct pleasure to read a fantasy quest that doesn't depend on a parent being absent, abducted or dead, as the impetus, but instead on the main character doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do. Suzy is smart, brave and caring without being sanctimonious – someone we can all look up to in any dimension.
There's a self-organised queue of children wanting to borrow the book as soon as it goes back into the library, and I'm convinced this will be one of our most-borrowed books this year once the other classes find out about it.
Caroline Wood is the librarian at Ashleigh Primary School in Lancashire
'I cried a lot'
I really liked this book because it was very adventurous and exciting. I cried a lot – I first cried at the bit where Wilmot and Fredrick were going to crash into the ivory tower after they had tried so much to get to it and they were saying that they were going to die, and I just cried because I didn't want them to die after they had come so far. Then I cried at the fact that they had to leave Wilmot with Crepuscula and Suzy was so heartbroken. I give this book 10/10 because it is so amazing.
Amelia, Year 6
'The pace was just right'
I found the book really engaging and it sucked me in at the start. Around the middle of the book, I started to get bored, but overall, the pace was just right for me. The description was amazing and it really helped me to create a picture in my head of what it would look like in real life. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes a lot of action.
Keira, Year 6
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