Monday, 30 April 2012

Kimi's Secret

John Hudspith

The length of the book worried me a little. It’s directed towards children so I wondered if the 446 pages would be off-putting, but then I got thinking about Narnia, Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland – all classics and all long books, so that thought was soon squashed.

Kimi had an imaginary friend from years ago called Bentley, and he turns up out of the blue on the eve of her eleventh birthday. But it turns out he wasn't imaginary, and he has to take her to a magical world called Heart and he has to take her NOW.

Kimi’s Secret doesn’t hang about, and I was soon thrust into Heart on an enchanting, and sometimes frightening journey where Famoose, Balancers, Adepts and Tuplas all exist alongside murderous crows, police monkeys and aliens. The marvellous array of strange creatures didn't once seem out of place, they were all well-defined characters. I had a particular fondness for Stella, Kimi’s seventeen year old mentor, a zany (human) character, and Babbage whom I can’t even begin to describe! He is the main key in the plot, and probably has a story all of his own (maybe in the sequel?).

The story didn't flag, although I'd have loved a bit more time with Kimi before she was sent to Heart; but this book is directed at kids, and they want FAST and NOW, which Kimi's Secret certainly is.

The one thing I didn't approve of was the language. For some "bloody" "crap" and "shit" aren't too bad, but this book is directed at ten and above and I wouldn't be keen to know my children were reading such language, but then I'm from the era which remembers Enid Blyton with great fondness. The "swearing" could probably be measured in two lines in the entire book, so maybe not too much to worry about, and Bentley, one of the main characters, disapproved too so that could go some way towards redeeming it.

Kimi's Secret was written in conjunction with a school, Portree Primary, and in an interview I had with the author John Hudspith he told me the children were delighted that the book didn't condescend and spoke with "real" language. So maybe I need to get with the times!

John Hudspith has a story to tell with Kimi's Secret and I think he succeeded very well. It has all the elements that a fantasy/sci-fi story needs: time travel, strange creatures, space  ships, a new world. But one thing that stood out for me was the fact that Kimi has nice parents, and got on well with them. I liked that. Too many books and TV aimed show adults and the pre-teen at one another's throat. 

Kimi's Secret doesn’t exactly end with a HEA, there is a To Be Continued but you know Kimi is going to come up trumps even when it’s all stacked against her. The book starts off with a bang, becomes steady, but then takes off at a furious speed that makes you NEED to turn the page. 

For children (and grownups) who loved Alice in Wonderland you'll love Kimi's Secret. It's just as bonkers, as fast and as enchanting (I just didn't like the "swearing"). 

Blurb of Kimi's Secret

Wanna hear something really scary?

When death comes knocking on your door there is really only one place to hide. Dragged screaming to the paranormal world of Heart, where ghosts are real, big cats prowl, aliens are greylians, monkeys rule, trolls troll, fairies are vermin, the Adepts always know best, magic is mojo and roasted dodo is the dish of the day; Kimi Nichols is handed a secret that must never be revealed. To do so would mean the end of mankind. 

WARNING: contains imploding toads, gravity-defying clowns, liquefied brains, a sadistic dentist and a deformed taxidermist; great dollops of blood and bogies, half a million crows, and a giant with OCD.

Gothic horror meets supernatural sci-fi; Kimi’s Secret will leave you gagging, breathless and sleeping with the light on. Suitable for grinning little monsters aged 10 to 100.