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I received this book to read and review as part of the 2021 Book Bloggers Novel of the Year Award (BBNYA) competition and the BBNYA tours organised by the The Write Reads Tour team. All opinions are my own, unbiased, and honest.
BBNYA is a yearly competition where Book Bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors. If you are an author and wish to learn more about the BBNYA competition, you can visit the official website or Twitter @bbnya_official.
The sign-ups will soon be open for the 2022 BBNYA competition, be it for authors to enter their books, or for bloggers wanting to be part of the new panel, so keep your eyes peeled!!
One tiny discovery can have enormous consequences…
Almost 10-year-old Octavia Bloom is looking for adventure, but when it comes it’s in the shape of a tiny fairy door.
Dragging her reluctant sister and cousins into the mystery, Octavia discovers her family are hiding not ONE but TWO life-changing secrets.
Why is her mother searching for an elusive flower? And does she have what it takes to reunite her fractured family?
Octavia’s certain the answers lie behind the fairy door, if only she could just find the key…
Bravery, secrets & magic intertwine in this fantastical adventure
Thank you to The Write Reads and the author for providing me with an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. **I ended up reading this via Kindle Unlimited.**
I haven’t read a middle grade book since, well, probably when I was in the age range of 9-12. But as soon as I read the description in the blog tour call for bloggers, I couldn’t resist. As someone who reread Ella Enchanted often as a child, this book would have fit in perfectly with my reading preferences. Although, not much has changed for me as an adult; fantasy is still my preferred reading genre!
This was an absolute delight to read. The main character, Octavia Bloom, is a quintessential head-in-the-clouds, forever curious 9-year old. Nothing seems to phase her, even when faced with two life-changing secrets, one of which could devastate her family if they don’t find a cure. Octavia digs into her overflowing well of optimism and tenacity and keeps going.
The predominant theme of this book is the bond of sisterhood. Octavia has an older sister, Felicity, and older twin cousins, Martha and Beatrice. They squabble good-naturedly over following rules, but when things get serious, they have each others’ backs. I loved how Octavia recognized when Felicity had moments of growing into her own. Rather than stealing the spotlight, Octavia was happy to watch her sister learn and become more confident. Admittedly, as an adult the selflessness embodied in this story is idealized. (Though wouldn’t that be a nice world?) However, I think this sends a wonderful message to middle grade readers, especially girls. That is, it’s important to lift others up and encourage and support them, particularly since society is less forgiving to girls and women. This is a lesson everyone should learn, regardless of gender.
I also appreciated that this book is chock full of strong female characters. There are no damsels in distress. Octavia is unforgivingly bold and a natural leader. Does this mean she’s fearless and can do everything? Of course not. Like everything else in the world, she’s nuanced. Someone can be both brave and have fear, but remain a strong leader. Someone can be both capable, but know their limits and ask for help. Octavia Bloom and the Missing Key is an example to all girls (and boys and those who are non-binary) that they can achieve great things; that they can be amazing leaders and explorers. The dynamics of what girls can do versus boys isn’t really a theme addressed in the book; but I think it’s important to emphasize what young readers may internalize.
As far as world-building goes, in my mind it was so vibrant! Everything is vivid and creative; I was able to picture most scenes clearly in my head. I loved the creatures the Bloom girls meet in fairy land–from the reluctant talking frog, to the floral-patterned unicorns, to the queen bee, who was perhaps my favorite. But this whole world is contingent on belief. For fairy land to survive, the humans who hold the key to their world have to believe in it. And that very belief is threatened when Octavia learns of her parents’ secret, one that drains their happiness and hope.
My only critique is that I felt the pacing was a bit fast. Once Octavia enters fairy land, it’s action-packed. However, I don’t usually read middle grade books, so I don’t know if this pacing is to be expected. Regardless, I overwhelmingly enjoyed everything else about this book. And even if you’re not within the targeted age range, it’s an uplifting read for all. This book is also the first of a series, so the adventure doesn’t stop here!
Content warnings: n/a
Reading format: Kindle e-book
About the Author
When not searching the backs of wardrobes for Narnia, the bottom of the garden for fairies or exploring yet another Castle, Estelle can be found with her nose in a book or a pen in her hand.
Having previously worked at Cardiff Castle, she now writes full time while looking after her four children.
She lives on the beautiful South Wales coast with her husband, children and crazy dog.