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Review: Shadowsea

Book Title: Shadowsea (available here)

Author: Peter Bunzl

Illustrator: Becca Stadtlander

Publisher: Usborne

Publication Date: Jan 2020

Most Suitable For: Years 5-6

Reviewed By: Jacqueline Harris, Education Consultant

This is the much-anticipated fourth book in the Cogheart series by Peter Bunzl. The world of Cogheart is an alternative Victorian England, where mechanicals (like intelligent robots) have been invented. Once again, the story focuses on two children, Lily Hartmann and Robert Townsend, and their mechanical fox, Malkin. Lily and Robert have an uncanny knack for getting into trouble and having adventures. In this story, they are off to New York for a holiday and this makes the setting for the latest instalment.

At the hotel where they are staying Lily and Robert meet a mysterious boy, accompanied by his aunt and a fearsome mechanical nurse. The boy seems very unhappy and asks for their help. Little do they realise where their help will lead.

As with the first three books, this is a richly detailed and peopled story. The ‘real’ elements of historical accuracy lend an almost believability to the tale. Once again Peter Bunzl has created a fast-paced adventure, full of tension and excitement. He also throws in plot twists that you can almost, but not quite, see coming, to further the anticipation. This is a classic adventure story, a bit like the ‘Penny Dreadfuls’ Lily is so fond of reading.

The illustrations dotted around throughout the book are by Becca Stadtlander and keep the same theme as previous books.

There is something about a series of books that always makes you wonder if the author will be able to deliver as good a read as the books that came before and whether they will be able to keep you on the edge of your seat. This one has similar themes -loss being the thread that has run through all the stories, alongside the theme of fitting in whilst being different – but it is darker and scarier than the previous books. Anyone who has enjoyed the first three Cogheart adventures will want to read this one too, but some parts are the stuff of nightmares and it is not for the fainthearted; only those with a real sense of adventure!

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You can order Shadowsea online or from your local bookshop or library.

Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to Review Panel member Jacqueline for reviewing it.

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