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PB, 327 pages, Bloomsbury


Jake Cutler has been raised by cyber-monks on the planet of Remota since the night a mysterious stranger brought him to their monastery eleven years ago. But when the monastery is attacked and burned to the ground, he is forced to go on the run with a treasure hunter and the crew of the Dark Horse, a rusty old space freighter captained by Granny Leatherhead. The only clue to Jake’s past is a mysterious crystal amulet he has always worn, that may lead him to a planet of fabulous wealth, or deeper into danger than he has every been before. Jake must battle both space pirates and the sinister Interstellar Navy before he can find out the truth about his own past, and his destiny.

This is a massively entertaining MG novel, the first in a projected trilogy, that has overtones of Star Wars, Laputa – Castle in the Sky and The Mysterious Cities of Gold, which are all Very Good Things. Jake and his friends, pampered Kella and shipwrecked teenage alien Nanoo, are endearing and courageous, and the disreputable crew of the Dark Horse are funny without being clichéd, and in places they reveal surprising depths to their characters.

There are space battles, black holes, intergalactic squid, sinister fortune seekers, PIRATES!, lost planets and thrilling chases across the galaxy. It’s tremendous fun, and I think it’s a book that would appeal to reluctant young readers as well as anyone who enjoys a good trans-galactic romp.



If you enjoyed this review you might be interested to know that I’m guest reviewing on Over The Effing Rainbow this week talking about Richard Ford’s fine grimdarkish fantasy The Shattered Crown – drop by Lisa’s blog and say hello!