Friday, 28 September 2018

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 28th September 2018: "The Key to Flambards" by Linda Newbery (David Fickling Books)

Our Chapter Book of the Week this week is a book that...oh my, evoked such a powerful set of childhood memories it genuinely took my breath away.
K.M. Peyton's original "Flambards" books were something of a guilty secret for me at school.

I was completely captivated by a TV dramatisation of the books and was determined to read them. But at school they were firmly deemed "Girl books" (yeah, welcome to the 1980s) - but thankfully times have changed - and the original books are just as amazing as I remember them.

Which is why I approached "The Key to Flambards" by Linda Newbery with a bit of trepidation. I'm not 'big' on authors taking up the reins of classic stories and reinventing them. But when I started to read how Linda's writing career was largely inspired by K.M Peyton herself, I took a lot more interest.

In fact I needn't have worried, Linda is the PERFECT person to bring new Flambards books to print. Her love for the originals, and her friendship with Kathy Peyton herself really shines through in this new story.

We meet Grace Russell, who at fourteen, has already had to adjust to a devastating accident from which she’ll never recover. Now she and her newly single mother are leaving their city home for Flambards, out in the Essex countryside. An exciting opportunity - but, for Grace, it’s a change too far.

Yet, she finds herself increasingly interested in the house, its people (both past and present) and, especially, two boys she meets: Jamie, who is wrapped up in his own interests, and the deeply troubled Marcus, who is dealing with his difficult, potentially violent father.

Over time, Grace discovers surprising links to the house and landscape she has just arrived in, and in turn, her own place in the world.

As with the original stories and their turn of the 20th century setting, the mood and atmosphere is brilliantly reinvented, and the interplay between Grace, Jamie and Marcus perfectly echoes the original relationships between Christina, Mark and Will.

Girl or Boy, you'll be totally hooked on this - and I urge you to rediscover the original books by K.M Peyton too (thankfully they're still in print). Linda has done an incredible job here though, perfectly encapsulating all of the page-turning brilliance of the Flambards stories with a truly stunning homage.

"The Key to Flambards" by Linda Newbery is out on 8th October 2018, published by David Fickling Books.