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Review & Author Post: The Ten Riddles of Eartha Quicksmith / Loris Owen

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When lonely Kip Bramley receives a cryptic invitation delivered by a beetle-shaped drone, which appears to be breathing, his world changes forever.

Soon Kip finds himself at the mysterious Quicksmiths College of Strange Energy, chasing riddles and solving puzzles on a crazy treasure hunt set 400 years earlier by a mysterious genius. Kip and his new friends must use their wits, teamwork, and new knowledge to solve Eartha’s Ten Riddles and find the Ark of Ideas. But dark forces are gathering…

Read on for our Review Panel’s thoughts on the book and a special guest post from author Loris Owen.



Book Title: The Ten Riddles of Eartha Quicksmith (available here)

Author: Loris Owen

Publisher: Firefly Press

Publication Date: September 2020

Most Suitable for: Upper Ks2

Review by: Christine Ivory


The Ten Riddles of Eartha Quicksmith follows the adventures of Kip Bramley, a lover of puzzles who receives a mysterious invitation and the life-changing experience that then follows. This is a perfect book for children who are fans of Harry Potter and will please Science Fiction and Mystery lovers alike. With riddles and puzzles around every corner (and an almighty twist!) readers will be on the edge of their seat.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and one of the highlights was the cast of characters. Kip is a kind, loveable and relatable character: many children will be able to relate to his worries and experiences, especially regarding experiences in school. The other characters he meets are unique and interesting, without any two characters feeling too similar. It is a great tale of friendship and working together towards a common goal.

In the school environment, this would be a great class read for children in Upper Key Stage 2. Although the chapters themselves are long, the use of subheadings within each one allows teachers, or children as they are reading, to take timely breaks – great for fitting it in to a busy timetable or for those readers with less stamina.

For science lovers, the story has the perfect balance of technical vocabulary – enough to interest but not too much that it overwhelms the reader, allowing children with a range of reading abilities to access it. The use of futuristic technology would be a perfect way to use this book to inspire writing as children could design and write about their own invention.


You can order The Ten Riddles of Eartha Quicksmith online or from your local bookshop.

Guest Post

What would an open day at Quicksmiths College of Strange Energy be like?

by Loris Owen, author of The Ten Riddles of Eartha Quicksmith (available here)

Quicksmiths Open Day Welcome and Agenda

06:00 – 07:00 Early arrivals

If required, pick up from your home and return to your front door by Timestretch Limo, courtesy of GENI (Giant Enigmatic Nebulous Intelligence).

07:00 – 07:40 Breakfast and snacks in the Buttery Notes:

  • The Buttery opens for guests at 08:00.

  • Among other delicious treats, Chef Garibaldi will be serving his famous baked-bean pizza.

  • There will be a cheese station, absolutely no mowls allowed.

07:40 Meet-and-greet

All student hosts, ambassadors, professors ready to welcome candidates.

07:45 – 17:00 Candidate arrivals and appointments

Each candidate will have their own individualised puzzle trail to reach the college on time via tailor-made wormhole.

07:50 – 17:00 tents open to candidates

—- Featuring —-


  • Professor Steampunk will give workshops on how to:

  • make a baby wormhole

  • add dye to wormholes for easier visibility

  • safely store wormholes

  • connect two ends to desired destinations using the Wormhole Positioning System

  • He will also demonstrate how not to be chased by a runaway wormhole, which happens every year.


  • Professor Trucible will describe the workings of Timestitches and Timeneedles.

  • There will be regular demonstrations of the Human Remote (student hosts and candidates).

  • See an exhibition on Eartha Quicksmith’s mysterious Futurescope.

  • Every fifteen minutes there will be a short tour around the Clock Tower to view the vanishing machinery.


  • Professor Kvörk will explain:

  • the history and inner workings of the wonderful flying discs we know as Skimmis

  • why we need traffic lights in the treetops

  • what to do if you accidentally get caught in a riptide

  • how two powerful Strange Energies – Thoughtwaves and Slipstream – can be combined safely (with the help of volunteers from the audience)

  • Skimmi try-outs (student hosts and candidates).

  • Every 30 minutes there will be a tour to the Great Globe to show the major Slipstream currents around the Earth.

  • Regular demonstrations of antique airchairs from the Quicksmiths Museum.



  • Skycrackle Fireworks (with Timeyarn and Thoughtwave special effects) will be set off throughout the day from the floating firework platform.

  • Professor Chiaki and student hosts will be handing out Skycrackle Pens – write your name in the air! (Note: these are perfectly harmless but might leave a slight tingling sensation if used on the skin)

  • Regular virtual trips to the upper atmosphere where Skycrackle is harvested.

  • Every fifteen minutes there will be a short tour to see Skycrackle Tower.

  • IMPORTANT NOTE: no Skimmis to be used near the Tower.



  • A demonstration of the different Thoughtwaves produced by a selection of organisms, including:

  • A mushroom

  • The old oak

  • Two mushrooms

  • Gnawmon the rat

  • One of Mrs Fruppence’s thieving voles

  • Humans

  • Every hour there will be a Heartsichord concert, which will play the emotions of randomly selected members of the audience.

THE TEN RIDDLES OF EARTHA QUICKSMITH by Loris Owen is out now in paperback

(£6.99, Firefly Press)


You can order The Ten Riddles of Eartha Quicksmith online or from your local bookshop.

Many thanks to the publishers for sending us a review copy and to Loris for the guest post.



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