HomeReviewsMiddle GradeReview: The Unmapped Chronicles: Casper Tock and the Everdark Wings

Review: The Unmapped Chronicles: Casper Tock and the Everdark Wings

The Unmapped Chronicles

Title: The Unmapped Chronicles: Casper Tock and the Everdark Wings
Author: Abi Elphinstone
Genre: Middle Grade
Page Count: 384
Published by: Aladdin
Date Published: January 7, 2020
You can find it here: Bookshop.org


The weather on earth has gone wild and dangerous. Hurricanes continue to pommel the UK on a weekly basis and tornadoes are tearing through North America. But Casper Tock has bigger problems right now … he is currently hiding in his family’s grandfather clock in the hopes of escaping his school’s resident bully, Candida. And apparently he isn’t alone.

Inadvertently, Casper has traveled from his world into Rumblestar, a kingdom in the sky and one of the four Unmapped Kingdoms. The girl beside him is Utterly, the adventurous, quick-tongued girl with a pet dragon in her overall pocket, who currently believes Casper is a demon spy and is determined to arrest him.

Everything rule following, careful planning Casper has ever believed about the origins of Earth, weather, and science is about to be blown away as he begins a journey through unknown kingdoms discovering there is a connection between the dangerous weather on Earth and this new sky kingdom of Rumblestar. And he, together with Utterly, may be the only ones who can save everyone.


Let’s Talk Characters:

These characters were fantastic. Casper is a very serious, very careful, very anxious rule-following, list-making boy and Utterly is his complete opposite – wild, rule-breaking, adventure-seeking, ask-questions-later girl. Their juxtaposition was fantastic, bringing out the best (and worst) in each other. But each character shares the same core, a connection of loneliness and a desire for friendship.

As these two travel through this Kingdom in the sky we meet all kinds of beasts and creatures – from trolls to ogres to witches to giants and dragons and phoenixes … it can feel like a lot, but it really works. Characters are vividly imagined and well described, written with heart and intelligence.

We see something in this novel that is often absent in middle grade – proud, supportive, kind and ALIVE parents! I mean, what? It was so refreshing to see middle grade kids each have parents that were loving, that supported them and that Abi didn’t rely on the cliche of dead/missing parents to create drama. A small thing, but I really appreciated it!

Let’s Talk Imagination & World:

This middle grade packs an enormous wallop of imagination. I love how unafraid Abi Elphinstone was to just be completely uninhibited in the development of this world, her characters and even her language! Made up words like wigglysplat and mudgrapple actually came across quite delightful, adding to this immersive adventure rather than making it feel juvenile.

Kingdoms in the sky, witches, storm ogres, pet tiny dragons, a  just-in-case trunks that delivers whatever you want in exchange for a joke or a secret … I love middle grade stories like this, that are fully escapist, a wacky world, and full of heart. And of course, dragons.

Let’s Talk Plotting, Pacing:

While my daughter and I did thoroughly enjoy this novel there were times I was quite frustrated by the overly convoluted, quite confusing origin story surrounding the creation of the planet, the kingdoms, weather marvels, phoenixes, wizards … it read like an author who was so swept away in her imagination and this incredible world she built, that she forgot to take her audience along with her. Many times I had to reread the prologue and various sections in order for my little and I to understand what was happening. It was definitely frustrating and discouraging at times, and ultimately clunked up the pacing through the middle half of this otherwise wonderful adventure.

Overall Thoughts:

Just a wild, wacky, adventurous ride! Full to the brim with imaginative creatures, heartfelt characters, vivid worlds and delightful language. Other worldly imagination is well grounded in reality as our characters both grapple with inner anxieties, grief, and uncertainty, making the story relatable and approachable. This is an excellent read aloud and while the vivid world building falls into overly descriptive & convoluted plotting at times, it definitely is a worthwhile read. Excited to see where this series goes.

TBR Ranking: High

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