L.D. Lapinski, The Strangeworlds Travel Agency, Hachette Children’s Group, April 2020, 272 pp., RRP $16.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781510105942
The Strangeworlds Travel Agency is a delicious new fantasy. The book begins with this line: “There have always been places in our world where magic gathers.”
Flick Hudson is eerily drawn to the old shop under the Strangeworlds banner – “Something prickled under her skin.” Inside she finds Jonathan, the young proprietor, and shelves and shelves of colourful suitcases. She gets short shrift from Jonathan, until he notices something magical about her that she is as yet unaware of. Each suitcase is a portal to another world in the multiverse, something that Flick scoffs at until Jonathan takes her on her first trip.
And we are off! L.D. Lapinski leads us on a merry dance in her debut novel, through lands stranger than most of us could imagine, and with the sense that Flick has found her calling. Jonathan, having inherited the family business in an untimely manner, eventually welcomes Flick as companion and helper on his quest to find his missing father. Together they try to unravel the puzzle of just what has been going on in the many worlds. Something is very wrong.
This is an engaging, high fantasy adventure in the Harry Potter style. The magical elements are very satisfying and the family issues for both are presented in a way that quickly involves the reader. The plot certainly thickens as we go on, promising sequels. Lapinski’s language is a delight. Descriptions like this one pop up regularly:
“Flick felt something like static electricity crackle beneath her skin, and anticipation rose for a moment in her chest, before softening into gentle wonderment.”
Clearly a book that will delight the middle grades, the storytelling will also appeal to older lovers of magical fantasy. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Marita Thomson