A review of The Chime Seekers by Ross Montgomery, a magical adventure story published by Walker Books, 2021.
Ross Mongomery’s latest book, The Chime Seekers, is already becoming a favourite among his many followers. It’s a fast-paced contemporary adventure story inspired by the popular folklore theme of the changeling baby.
Published by: Walker Books, 2021. Available from Amazon.
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The story of ‘The Chime Seekers’
The Chime Seekers is an adventure story about a brave boy, his bossy cousin, and a changeling baby. The central character, Yanni, is ten years old. He’s very resentful of his new baby sister, Ari – in fact, he wishes his parents had never had her. One night his parents go out, leaving Yanni and his awful cousin Amy, who is the same age as he is, to babysit. Yanni goes up to his room, and there encounters a scary stranger, the wicked pantomime villain of the book. He is the cunning Lorde Renwin, and he tricks Yanni into letting him take baby Ari away. In her place he leaves a changeling.
Desperate to find Ari before the parents come home, Yanni, Amy and the changeling find their way to Faery, which at first is very like Yanni’s new house – but worse. Outside all is tangled and spiky and bleak. Cousin Amy knows three important things about handling fairies: 1. Never eat faery food. 2. Never tell a faery your name. And 3. Never enter into any deals with them. Fairies are such tricksters that they always win.
This is very good advice, but, as we find out, very, very hard to follow. Yanni embarks on a series of quite terrifying adventures as he desperately tries to meet Lorde Renwin’s demands. Amy proves to be just as brave and resourceful as he is; and what’s more, she has a very useful book on Fairy Lore.
The Chime Seekers bubbles with unforgettable characters, such as the one-eyed frog (who is convinced that Yanni and Amy have come to steal his other eye), the lovable talking signpost, and the deliciously evil Lorde Renwin. He sets Yanni three impossible tasks, knowing he will never be able to do them. Oh, wicked, wicked Lorde Renwin! Ah but …
As in all the best adventure stories, there are lots of really scary moments. One of my favourite scenes is where Yanni is chased by statues:
Slowly, his body rigid with fright, he turned around. Something was heaving itself out of the darkness. Yanni knew exactly what it was – he just didn’t want to believe it. 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 …
My thoughts on ‘The Chime Seekers’
I loved reading The Chime Seekers. I knew I would, having enjoyed Ross Montgomery’s The Midnight Guardians so much. It has that quality of keeping you wondering what will happen next, so you carry the story round in your head, anxious to know how Yanni is getting on without you. It has great pace, with new surprises in every chapter, nightmares, danger, love, tenderness, and courage. It’s one of those books that you really don’t want to end. There’s a brilliant device at the beginning of what seems to be the final stage – but I’m not going to spoil the plot by mentioning what it is. And the final ending is lovely. It’s a thoroughly good book, a cracking read, and one of the best of its genre. A proper children’s book.
About Ross Montgomery
Ross Montgomery began his career as an author/illustrator, and has written several weird and wonderful books for children. His first book, Alex the Dog and the Unopenable Door, was nominated for the Branford/Boase award and for the Costa Children’s Book award. The Midnight Guardians was one of the Guardian Children’s Books of the Year and was shortlisted for the Costa Children’s Book award.
And of his next book, The Stonecallers, he says: “I cannot express how unbelievably, tooth-grindingly difficult writing this first draft has been. I’ve honestly never had a harder time pulling out a story! I’ve been very brave, and I’d like a biscuit please.”
I think he deserves a whole tin. And I can’t wait to read the book!
The lovely covers of both The Midnight Guardians and The Chime Seekers are by artist David Dean.
‘The Chime Seekers’ – reviewed by younger readers
“This book is filled with adventure and magic. It was very exciting to read because I never knew what was going to happen next and I just couldn’t predict the ending.
My favourite bits were the creepy parts involving the character Lord Renwin and I also liked the character Amy because she had lots of personality.
The book has some great descriptions which made me feel like I was really there on the mission.
I recommend this book to anyone who likes magic and fantasy. If I had to use one word to describe this book it would be page-turner. Once you start reading it you won’t want to put it down.”
Review by Alice Bellamy, year 5, Hunters Bar Junior School
My own changeling story
Some years ago I wrote a changeling story for slightly younger children, 7+.
The Starburster is a three part series: The Starburster, The Humming Machine and The Windspinner, published by Random House. The three books are now available as a single volume bumper ebook, The Starburster Stories.
Over to you
Perhaps you know of other changeling stories or adventure stories in Faerie that you would like to recommend? Let me know in the comments box below!