Like its predecessor, Sanspell, Bragonsthyme is a beautiful book. The cover, hauntingly illustrated by the talented Donovan Bixley, evokes the icy feel and darkness that you will find wrapped within its pages. The prose, too, is equally evocative, rich with imagery. Even the first sentence is mesmerising: “The faint sound of a bell floated beneath the falling snowflakes. Like a whisper it was there.” This delicious use of language continues throughout the pages, taking the reader with Abigail on her journey into the worlds of the Bloodtree.
For Abigail, the events of Sanspell have faded into memories, but it is time for her to make a return to the Silvering Kingdom. Guided once more by her mysterious aunts, she must once more become Spindale, as she is thrust into another thrilling adventure, seeking to restore the happy endings to the stories of fable. This time, she goes into Bragonsthyme, a city frozen in time, or to be precise, frozen by Thyme – the ice dragon of legend. His story began, or perhaps ended, with a dark heart and a broken promise.
But Spindale is not the only one with a special mission – Flint is on a quest of his own, a quest to find the father he never knew. A quest that will take him, accompanied by the prickly Bramble, into the heart of the frozen city. Unbeknownst to all, their tales are bound to intertwine, uncovering a long-lost mystery and a secret that will alter the shape of the world as they know it. But success will not be easy, for power-greedy Zezmena, and her deadly father, Rackenard, have reasons of their own for hunting the children.
Fun, charming and fast-paced, Bragonsthyme continues what Sanspell started – a sophisticated and enjoyable tale for the 9-12 age range. It should appeal to both boys and girls.
Reviewed by Angela Oliver
by Elizabeth Pulford
Published by Scholastic NZ