Greetings my lovely lovers of laudable literature! It is Mad Martha with you today, bringing you a haiku review for a delightful new middle grade novel, The Race for Polldovia by first time author James Rochfort. I was lucky enough to receive a digital copy for review from the publisher, Book Guild UK – ta muchly!
The Race for Polldovia features nine year old Sophia, who, possessed as she is of a vivid imagination, spends a lot of time daydreaming about a magical land called Polldovia, and Polly, the plucky and pure of heart young princess who lives there. During one of these daydreams, Sophia finds herself drawn into the world of her imagination, only to find Princess Polly a prisoner of the terrible war-lord, Naberius, and in desperate need of help. So begins a daring bid for freedom and the search for a magical flower of legend, that has the power to bring peace and healing to all…or in the wrong hands, the destruction of all that is good. As Sophia and Polly embark on their quest, along with the faithful steed Acanthus, and with Naberius in hot pursuit, other mysteries are uncovered that may make Sophia question who she really is…and how she was able to travel to Polldovia in the first place.
World of daydreams is
all too real for Sophia
Needs all her courage
Now first off, let me say that this is decisively one for the girls. That’s not to say that male readers won’t enjoy the story by any means, but this book has all the ingredients that girls of a certain age seem to love above all else. There’s an imaginary best friend that Sophia suddenly meets in real life, a (sort-of) talking horse, magic, castles, a princess and a beautiful fairytale-type land to frolick in. But added to this, there’s also rollicking adventure, some pretty scary monsters on the girls’ tails, and the promise of major terror should they fail in their quest. So all in all, there’s a lot going on here in what is a fairly compact little novel and it is perfectly pitched to the interests of the tween market.
Rochfort creates an atmosphere in this book that is reminiscent of authors like Eva Ibbottsen and Joan Aiken. There’s an ethereal other-ness about the magical land, overshadowed with a certain sense of danger or fear. There is also an authenticity to the lands of Sophia’s imagination that isn’t reliant on reams of detail or bogged down by unnecessary descriptive passages that slow down the action.
I thought it was interesting that the author chose to make Polly older than Sophia, although the reason for this becomes obvious later in the story. The character of Polly assumes a sort of big sister role for Sophia throughout the book, and almost works as a role model for Sophia’s character development. All in all, this would be the perfect choice for young girls who love fairytale type stories with strong, yet obviously feminine protagonists, or alternately, would work beautifully as a read-aloud before bed, to inspire dreams of looking one’s fears in the face and conquering them.
The Race for Polldovia was released on the 27th of February – so it really is hot off the press! And if that’s not exciting enough, keep an eye out for a GIVEAWAY (!!!) coming next week, in which you have the opportunity to WIN (!!!) one of THREE (wohoo!) paperback copies of The Race for Polldovia. Exciting, no?!
Until we meet again, my fair ladies and gents,