The Queen and the Nobody Boy: A tale of Fontania by Barbara Else, Gecko Press
The first book in the Fontania series, The Travelling Restaurant, received numerous accolades and awards. I suspect this one will do the same because it’s written in the same breathless, light-hearted style as the first. It’s set in the same fantastical country, and I was delighted to find the same intriguing and informative map decorating the endpapers. I love maps in books, especially when the characters go on a quest. King Jasper and his sister Queen Sibilla (from The Travelling Restaurant) are in the story, but it’s set several years later when Jasper is grown up and Sibilla is twelve. The hero of the story is the unpaid odd-job boy at the palace, named Hodie. He decides to run away to seek his fortune, but he’s joined by Sibilla, who has also run away. Their escape is complicated by a next-door country called Um’Binnia declaring war on Fontania. It’s a fast-paced rollercoaster of a plot, involving magic, greed, betrayal and family secrets. The publisher calls it “a pre-teen adventure/fantasy novel in the steampunk genre.” I’d call it a piece of whimsy, light as air but deliciously written.
ISBN 978 1 877579 23 3 RRP $24.99
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman