“Bruno Atlas didn’t speak, didn’t scream, only thought wuth eyes shut tight and a mind full of crimson fireworks: This is it and I’ll be gone soon. I’ll not be here any more. I’m going to die.
He heard his mother –
‘Bruno! I can’t see or get to ye! We have to get out before the whole place goes up!’”
Bruno Atlas was just five turns old when his house burned to the ground and he had to say goodbye to his father – the last Pitch Ender to die at the hands of the rebels. Ten turns on and Bruno is a young man, about to embark on his coming of age. However Bruno’s thoughts on the Pitch End Elders have always been a little skewed and this wasn’t helped when he found a book in the remains of his old house – a book of Tall Tales which tell stories which are different the those the Elders preach… and when a rebel returns to Pitch End Bruno is even more intrigued than those around him. As Bruno’s imagination kicks into over drive he attracts the attention to the Temperate Thomas, the highest Elder, and Bruno suddenly finds himself right in the midst of an adventure like he could never have dreamed.
I love 9 to 12 fantasy books, they will always been my age and genre of choice, and when I came across this one from Hot Key Books which mixed that genre with steampunk and dark magic and I knew I had to read… thankfully I was not disappointed!
The story was incredible and I loved the world building so much. I found myself engulfed in the world of Pitch End and imagined how the town was laid out, how it was cut off form other places because it was almost island like and had the mountains masking it from the rest of the world. I loved the conspiracy feeling and how there was something obviously not right about the elders from the start.
The writing was brilliant and whilst I thought it was pretty advanced for a 9-12 book I loved every second. It was fast-paced and I did have to re-read in a couple of places, but the narration was done wonderfully and it made me feel like I was Bruno’s companion almost. The world is different to our own but quite similar and I loved the way the people spoke in it, with ‘ye’ for you and ‘da’ for dad… it reminded me of how people speak up North where I’m from, and in Scotland and Ireland… which I guess is what Nigel was going for as he grew up in Ireland I believe.
The characters and wonderful and I really liked the way relationships and characters true intentions were laid out, not obviously but in a way that meant you had to think a little bit about them. I liked the way death was handled because it was so blatantly wrong to forget those you love, just as you shouldn’t in real life. Death is quite a hard topic to write about for this age group I think but Nigel McDowell did it in an interesting way which wouldn’t be too much for a younger member of the target audience.
As I mentioned, the writing was a little advance for the age range and I don;t think I would have been able to read it at 9… though I didn’t have a great reading age as a kid! That would be my one downside to the book though and whilst I would recommend it to others, I’d suggest it was more for the older target age than the younger.
Tall Tales From Pitch End was published on June 6th by Hot Key Books. My copy was sent to me form the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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