Enter the magical world of impossible creatures and the humans (and semi-humans) who protect them.  Mal is a small girl who can fly when the wind blows and she is wearing an old coat. Christopher is a young boy about to discover that his amazing ability to attract animals is a sign of his true potential.

Together they are going to try save The Archipelago – a collection of hidden, secret islands inhabited by all the magical creatures from myths and stories. Picture dragons, griffins, sphinxes, unicorns, krakens, and many more.  Something dark has taken root at its centre and the islands’ glimourie (magic) is disappearing.

Mal knows something’s wrong with the glimourie, but she also has a murderer on her trail and she needs to find out why someone wants her dead.  The two children are thrown together on a long and dangerous journey to discover how to save the fading glimourie.

Katherine Rundell’s award winning story ticks all the boxes. Fantastic creatures, magic, danger, friendship, bravery, cranky old men who are sweethearts deep down, noble causes and endearing animal sidekicks.  The story will capture your imagination and you’ll be cheering Mal and Christopher on as they get closer and closer to the deadly secret at the heart of the vanishing world.  The finale is both surprising and suitable and I feel a sequel is in the plans.

There are lots of fights, angry creatures, bad people and attempts to kill Mal, so sensitive children may be alarmed.  However, as a mythical story it is not too scary and fans of Harry Potter will love the world she creates.

I was totally hooked up until about the first half of the story as the suspense built and gave time to the interactions between the children and the animals they encountered.  Then the storyline suddenly got thrown into a mad dash of one event after another, with new characters, animals, islands and mini quests piled up.  There wasn’t enough time to connect with any of the creatures, (except Jacques the tiny dragon.)  The finale felt like the end of an overlong party and I found myself less invested in the outcome.

Luckily the absolute end piqued my interest again and I look forward to more. I also felt the descriptions of Mal as this constantly fierce, sharp angled, jaw thrusting ball of anger and bravery meant we couldn’t get to know her on a deeper level. And her griffin Gelifen, who kept scratching and unintentionally hurting her, added to the prickly feeling around this duo. Christopher had more depth and felt more real and relatable.  Maybe that was Rundell’s intention.

Overall, Impossible Creatures is a powerfully written and exciting read that children who love fantasy will love. Let us know what you thought!

Katherine Rundell is an award winning author – she was named author of the year at the British Book Awards – the first time in six years that a children’s writer has picked up the accolade. Impossible Creatures also won the prize for children’s fiction book of the year.

Find out more about Katherine Rundell here. And check out some of the cool animals on The Archipelago below:

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