Reviews /

The Chime Seekers

Authored by Ross Montgomery
Illustrated by David Dean
Published by Walker Books

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The Chime Seekers is a wonderfully dark and exciting read, full of magic and humour, with some unforgettable characters and a fabulous villain in the shape of Lorde Renwin.

The protagonist is a 10-year-old boy named Yanni, who is deeply resentful of his baby sister Ari, and, to make everything worse, has just had to move house, leaving his previous life and friends behind. On Halloween, his parents decide to go out, leaving his cousin, Amy, to babysit. When a stranger arrives, he tricks Yanni into allowing him to take the baby away, swapping her with a changeling. Very quickly, the two realise they must get Ari back and embark on a journey to Faery, which at first is very like Yanni’s new house and village – but much stranger and more dangerous. Outside all is spiky, spooky, and wild, and there is only one night to complete their quest!

The story is deeply embedded within ancient folklore, with faeries portrayed as powerful, demanding and cunning creatures who prove untrustworthy and deliciously evil. We follow Yanni while he explores how he feels about his family, friends, and siblings; working out his place in life and moving from being a self-centred child into a more grown-up world. The traditional three, impossible tasks set by Lorde Renwin will remind the reader of many fairy and supernatural tales. So, it is lucky that Amy’s character was skilled in role-play gaming and had the background knowledge to aid Yanni on his quest, not to mention her possession of a book on fairy lore!

Some of the minor characters are sweetly amusing, such as the one-eyed frog and the lovable talking signpost but there are times when Lorde Renwin’s evil spells can be terrifying as Yanni discovers, “[…] his body rigid with fright, he turned around. Something was heaving itself out of the darkness […] He didn’t want to believe that the thing crawling across the floor toward him was real: the shattered stumps, the crumbling skin, the blank void where the face should be […]. Teachers may decide to do a little judicious editing at times or give a warning before reading such passages.

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it highly as a class reader or for a school library for upper KS2. The author’s skills in controlling various plots and creating the two worlds of reality and fantasy which echo each other like distorted reflections in a cracked mirror, are deeply impressive and should appeal to a variety of readers.

The novel was nominated for the Yoto Carnegie Award in 2023.