Wednesday 17 April 2024

The Lighthouse at the World's End: The fourth and final instalment


Published by: Walker Books, 4th April 2024
In three words: Marvellous Magical Mayhem!
Written by Amy Sparkes, illustrated by Ben Mantle

Following on from The House at the Edge of MagicThe Tower at the End of Time and The Bookshop at the Back of Beyond comes the final instalment of this hilarious, zany, joyful series that zings with magic. This is the series I wanted to read as a child - a step up from The Faraway Tree in terms of age and plot but with the same calibre of unique and memorable characters that you'll want to share a pot of strawberry tea with. There's a magical setting which feels like a lovable character in its own right (a house, not a tree) and a maze of magical lands to explore...promising to lead to a whole host of mischievous trouble. The quirkiness of it all just makes it brilliant!

This is a masterclass in fantasy writing. Amy Sparkes' imagination knows no bounds and there are delightful and ingenius surprises on every page. Watch out for a wandering toilet, hidden house guests and password-protected biscuit tins. There's loads of witty banter - probably one of my favourite things about the whole series - and a perfect balance of emotion and humour. If you've followed the series from the beginning then this book is particularly emotional and I will happily admit to shedding tears, sometimes whilst snorting with laughter too!

In terms of the plot, be prepared to have the mysterious and unanswered questions, which have plagued both the reader and the main character Nine, all wrapped up. Without giving away spoilers, the key to the mystery lies with what is the best and most enjoyable villain I have read in a long time. For me, Flabberghast's sister steals the show, although Flabberghast, Eric and all the members of the house are all characters who will stay close to my heart. As for Nine, her emotional journey will tug at your heartstrings while her quest will have you on the edge of your seat. There's stormy seas, a in-between world battle, two batty aunts and an interesting game of bowls. 

It's hard to put into words how much I have enjoyed this series and I am a forty-something adult. This is a super-special, magical, totally immersive read which I will be recommending to every young reader I come into contact with it. Hopefully they will find it equally entertaining, brilliant and inspiring. I also want to draw attention to Ben Mantle's incredible artwork - the covers of all four books have been standout and they all have pride of place on my shelf. This world is a treat as sweet as strawberry tea!

A big thank you to Amy Sparkes and Walker Books for sending me a review copy. The Lighthouse at the World's End is available to buy now. 

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