In ‘Skyborn’, Sinead O’Hart has created a magical story set in several different magical worlds. Her characters are appealing in their bravery and comradeship, and there are many layers to both Bastjan and Alice, who grow more appealing as the novel progresses. I like the way that we get a lot about Bastjan’s backstory right at the start of the novel, but then Alice’s past is revealed little by little. Crane is also a strong supporting character. It was refreshing to have an evil step-father/ringmaster in this novel, and there is even an evil doctor thrown in for good measure.
I did find the many different settings a little ‘choppy’ – I really enjoyed the parts of the novel set in the circus, which told of a child yearning for knowledge of his dead mother, but then the novel shifted into science fiction and steampunk in it’s later sections. I’m not sure whether younger readers may find this a little confusing, although in fairness, everyone seems to cope okay with Philip Pullman, and there are lots of connections to his style here.
Overall, I can see this book being very popular with younger readers, especially those with a wild imagination. Be prepared to suspend your beliefs and explore O’Hart’s fantasy world.
‘Skyborn’ will be published on 10th June 2021. Thank you to NetGalley UK and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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