Friday 12 January 2024

The Impossible Secret of Lillian Velvet: a Kingdoms and Empires Book

The Impossible Secret of Lillian Velvet: a Kingdoms and Empires Book by Jaclyn Moriarty (Allen & Unwin) HB RRP $22.99  ISBN 9781761067570

Reviewed by Kerry Gittins

For most of her short life, Lillian Velvet has lived with her stern, uncompromising and decidedly unaffectionate grandmother. Her days are regimented, and she must follow the routine set for her otherwise there is the sting of a sharp reprimand. But things change dramatically on the day of her tenth birthday. Grandmother gives Lillian a jar of gold coins and tells her, Don’t go out, don’t open the door to anyone – and don’t spend all your coins at once,’ which seems odd to Lillian as she’s not allowed to go out so how could she spend her coins? Just when she thinks things cannot get stranger, she feels an almighty shove and finds herself somewhere very different to her home in Bomaderry.


Lillian has begun her adventures in the Kingdoms and Empires series where magic, intrigue and a certain spurious character called Mr Turtlehaze follow her everywhere. Each time she experiences the shove she finds herself in another kingdom that costs her more of her gold coins, and where it falls upon Lillian to save someone from danger. Throughout her seemingly disconnected forays she encounters Shadow Mages, True Mages, Sparks, Hurtlings, Spellbinders and even a Queen – all creatures and people she has never met but who are somehow familiar. Lillian also meets the various members of the Mettlestone family who are brave, courageous, and kind. They will all play a key role in helping Lillian discover who – and what - she really is. 


This intriguing, character driven plot is like a puzzle, with each chapter disclosing another piece about Lillian and her time travels. Readers will be captivated from the very beginning by a fast paced, compelling, and intricate storyline that will have them on the edge of their seats anticipating the final, monumental revelation of the Lillian’s secret. Kelly Canby’s colourful cover design and delightful black and white chapter illustrations with their Picasso-esque faces are the perfect complement to a wonderfully quirky and endearing story.


Although this is Book 5 and I read it as a stand-alone, it only left me wanting to find out more about the wonderful worlds that came before this one, created by the talented Jaclyn Moriarty. This was my first venture into the Kingdoms and Empires series, but it won’t be my last. Highly recommended for ages 10 – 14.


Teaching themes could include magic, fantasy, quests, spells, humour, courage, resourcefulness, family, friends, belonging and love.



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