Escape to the Moon Islands by Mardi McConnochie (Allen and Unwin) PB RRP $14.99 ISBN 9781760290917
Reviewed by Daniela Andrews
I’m grateful nobody took a photo of me reading this novel for I must have looked a funny sight … eyes wide open, face alarmed (though I wouldn’t have noticed if they had because I could barely look away from the page!) This fast-paced novel, the first in a new adventure series titled Quest of the Sunfish, is delightfully intense.
The story, for 9–12 year-olds, is set in a dystopian future where a terrible Flood (caused by rising sea levels) has altered the world. Will and Annalie, twin siblings, set off on a dangerous sea adventure in a quest to find their missing father, Spinner. Annalie’s friend from school, Essie, accompanies them, along with Graham (their talking parrot). They also pick up another crew member along the way – the mysterious Pod.
The world is under the control of the Admiralty, a powerful navy that governs and patrols the oceans. The children discover their father has allegedly stolen something from the Admiralty, and is hiding from them. As a result, they themselves are at threat, and they learn that the Admiralty is not as trustworthy as it seems. While trying to find Spinner, the children seek clues and crack codes to work out what it is that he has stolen and why.
The short chapters are full of action and suspense as they escape from pirates, cannibals and navigate stormy seas, all the while trying to keep out of sight of the Admiralty. Each character is very different, providing much tension in the novel. Their friendships and loyalties are challenged.
Mardi McConnochie, well-known scriptwriter and author of several books (including Melissa, Queen of Evil, a winner of an Aurealis award) has delivered a gripping new adventure story. A second novel in the series will be published in April 2017.