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‘The Chime Seekers’ by Ross Montgomery

A review of The Chime Seekers by Ross Montgomery, a magical adventure story published by Walker Books, 2021.

Ross Mongomery’s very successful book, The Chime Seekers, like his first book The Midnight Guardians, is a firm favourite among his many followers. It’s a fast-paced contemporary adventure story inspired by the popular folklore theme of the changeling baby. It is currently (2023) on a Book Club for Schools programme.


Published by: Walker Books, 2021. Available from Amazon.

This website contains affiliate links. If you buy items using these links, I receive a commission, at no extra cost to you.

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 …

Scary moments

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.

‘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

Alice from year 5, Hunters Bar Junior School, one of my young reviewers of ‘The Chime Seekers’

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.

The Starburster Stories by Berlie Doherty

About Ross Montgomery

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!

Ross Montgomery’s website

The lovely covers of both The Midnight Guardians, The Chime Seekers and Spellstone (see below) are by artist David Dean.


Meanwhile, in summer 2023, his latest book Spellstone is receiving a lot of deserved attention. It’s great to see a new book by this engaging writer.


Published by: Walker Books, 2023. Available from Amazon.

This website contains affiliate links. If you buy items using these links, I receive a commission, at no extra cost to you.

Cover of Spellstone by Ross Montgomery

Spellstone begins with a strange scene set in a theatre where the audience is asleep, unaware that rain is coursing through the ceiling and into their upturned faces and mouths and glasses of champagne. Only five people are awake, watching a girl on stage performing badly timed conjuring tricks.

Her?’ said the cat incredulously. ‘She’s a sorcerer?’

Wainwright nodded. ‘The magic is hidden inside her. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve been watching her for a while.’

She is Evie, twelve years old, and they are people inside her dream. Next day, she meets both the cat and Wainwright in real life. And so begins the most magical and dangerous adventure that any child could wish for.

I asked Ross what magical power he would have if he were a sorcerer:

‘When I started writing Spellstone, one of the things I had to decide was how magic works in the book. Can anyone be a magician? Do you need wands to cast spells? What makes you more or less powerful than another magician?

My first choice was to keep it simple. I decided that magicians each have one power: one skill that is unique to them and them alone. This was based on a discussion, that became an argument, I had with my friends at school – if you could have one magical power, what would it be? A friend said that he’d be able to stop time – I said that this would be a horrible power to have! You’d be the only person in THE UNIVERSE who didn’t experience time like anyone else – it would be more of a punishment than a power! My friend got annoyed, and asked what power I’d have then – and I said the power to magic a glass of water in my hand at will. We argued about that for hours. I guess the only positive thing to come out of it is that I came up with Onslow’s power from it!’

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!

Berlie Doherty

Berlie Doherty is the author of the best-selling novel, Street Child, and over 60 more books for children, teenagers and adults, and has written many plays for radio, theatre and television. She has been translated into over twenty languages and has won many awards, including the Carnegie medal for both Granny Was a Buffer Girl and Dear Nobody, and the Writers’ Guild Award for both Daughter of the Sea and the theatre version of Dear Nobody. She has three children and seven grandchildren, and lives in the Derbyshire Peak District with Alan James Brown. Her new picture book The Seamaiden’s Odyssey, illustrated by Tamsin Rosewell, will be published by UCLan on 5 September 2024. See the About me page for more information.

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