Situated next to the village church in Little Wyverns, is the remarkable Strangeworlds Travel Agency. To all appearances a dusty Victorian relic of a shop, when 12-year-old Flick Hudson stumbles across its threshold she discovers a travel business unlike any other. Rows of suitcases line the walls, each one a portal to a mysterious parallel world. No discounted fortnights on the Algarve here, instead the heady possibility of kaleidoscopic world-hopping adventure. The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L. D. Lapinski joins Flick on the most magical, mind-bending, and frankly dangerous package holiday ever.
Flick doesn’t think of herself as the magical type, but the sardonic, rumpled waistcoat wearing shopkeeper, Jonathan Mercator, detects otherwise and invites her to join his secret society, one whose members travel the multiverse via suitcase, undertaking fact-finding missions and pledging to protect and honour each world.
‘You could watch blue suns rise over mountains of red glass, see flowers the size of houses, hear the crunch of the ground as dragons hatch from hidden caverns.’
Seduced by these visions, Flick pledges allegiance and her secret adventuring life begins. Such fabulously enchanted spheres she visits, places that will delight every reader who’s ever visited Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree, Charlie’s Chocolate Factory, Neverland, and inevitably, Hogwarts. The dazzling hub of this multiverse is The City of Five Lights, the centre of trade and a whirl of condensed supernatural energy. But darkness lurks at its edges as inexplicably its fabled energy is being drained away, potentially causing its collapse into nothingness and taking our own world with it.
Empowered by Jonathan’s unearthing of her magical intuition, Flick is clearly the right person for this challenge. But has he been entirely straight with her? And where is his father, the true custodian of Strangeworlds?
There’s a real fan buzz around this book, and deservedly so. Left open for a sequel, this could be the beginning of something marvellous.
The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L. D. Lapinski is published by Orion Children’s Books, 384 pages.