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Title: Octavia Bloom and the Missing Key (#1 Through the Fairy Door)

Author: Estelle Grace Tudor

Published: 20th of July 2020 – Ilustris

Format: Paperback – 228 pages

Hello Hello! How are you?

Today I am posting another Sunday review (I should really make this a series aha) and I’m catching up on posting the reviews that have been sitting in my drafts folder for a while… oops. Keep on reading for my thoughts on this middle-grade fantasy I read in February!

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS

One tiny discovery can have enormous consequences…

Almost 10-year-old Octavia Bloom is looking for adventure, but when it comes it’s in the shape of a tiny fairy door.

Dragging her reluctant sister and cousins into the mystery, Octavia discovers her family are hiding not ONE but TWO life-changing secrets.

Why is her mother searching for an elusive flower? And does she have what it takes to reunite her fractured family?

Octavia’s certain the answers lie behind the fairy door, if only she could just find the key…

Bravery, secrets & magic intertwine in this fantastical adventure.

MY REVIEW

Octavia Bloom and the Missing Key by Estelle Grace Tudor is the first book in the middle-grade fantasy series called Through the Fairy Door. This book was the February pick for the Middle Grade Marvels book club and one that I struggled with a little bit to be honest.

SETTING

This book starts out in the Bloom castle which we, unfortunately, don’t learn much about, but from what we did see and what I remember, it seemed like a majestic place and I would love to learn more about it. I don’t remember exactly where the castle is supposed to be, but the way that Octavia described it made it feel homely, so it will be interesting to see the way the other girls depict it.

The story then moves quickly – very quickly – to Fairyland which again needed a lot more world-building and description for my liking, but I thought that it seemed like a really magical place. There was a lot going on in this book and the girls go to so many different places that we don’t know much about and they jump from one place to another without really describing them, which I found a shame. I think the author could have gone to town in the descriptions of this world and not made it too heavy or long-winded for children, so I hope the next books will include more world-building and information about Fairyland.

CHARACTERS

Octavia: Octavia is the main character of this book – from what I can tell, each book has a different MC – and I have to say that sometimes I liked her and sometimes I did not. I think the main issue I have with this book is that it wanted to do too much but then didn’t pull it off, and I think the character development was one of them. Octavia felt a little too mature for her years at times and then other times came across as quite childish, which makes sense, but it also made her into quite a clunky character that I had a hard time getting on with.

Felicity (Fliss), Beatrice and Martha: Felicity is Octavia’s sister, and Beatrice and Martha are her cousins and I found that the girls had a good dynamic most of the time, but I still had issues with it. As I just said, I needed more from these characters to actually fully believe them and want to root for them. I thought that Fliss had the most potential where I kind of disliked the cousins, so it will be intriguing to find out how or if the girls develop at all in the sequels.

Octavia’s family: We don’t see much of Octavia’s family, but I feel like they are very important and don’t get the limelight I was expecting. I also felt like they were all a bit stereotypical and a bit too much, but then also not enough? I don’t even know if that made sense but I’m hoping they will become a bit more realistic in the next book.

Ferren: What a cute little mouse. I loved Ferren, she was so sweet and maybe one of the characters that I liked a lot.

The Fairies: I was also expecting to learn a lot about Fairyland and the people/fairies who live there, and while we do learn a bit, I still felt like they were all strangers that kind of coalesced in the same place for the same reason. I’m a little bit miffed at how little we get from all the characters as I feel like there was the potential to do a lot of character development and world-building, but I am staying optimistic for the sequel.

THEMES

Family: I think one of the biggest themes of this book is family and I do feel like maybe I needed more personally to believe the story more, but I still felt like their relationship was sweet – a little too sweet for me in some places though aha. I think because each book has a different main character, we will get a much better view of the family.

Secrets: I don’t like the “I didn’t tell you to protect you” trope in books which this one has, but I feel like right from the start, the secrets are completely bashed through once the girls discover the fairy door, which I appreciate. I also like that the girls are told about things and the reader learns elements of the plot quite quickly as it’s not drawn out. Lets just say that the revelation of the secret is one I never saw coming.

Magic: This is a middle-grade fantasy that has a lot of magic in it, and that again, I thought needed some development. I want to know how the fairies magic works, the one between the fairies and the Blooms, the Blooms’ magic. I’m hoping to get these answers soon.

A beautifully described world: Although I said higher up that I felt like the world-building in this book was lacking, I still thought that what we did see of Fairyland, was described beautifully and that’s maybe one of the parts that kept me reading. It comes across as a massive place, of which we only see a tiny amount, but I’m really hoping we see more of this wonderful place in the next books.

MY THOUGHTS AND RATING

Overall, this is a book that I was really expecting to love but which flopped a little bit in some places. I think it could have benefitted from having another 100 pages to give the reader a better feel for this world, do more world-building, explain the magic system, work on the character arcs and explore why there was a conflict in the land and what the Blooms had to do with it. I know this is just me being picky since we do get a little bit of all those elements in the book anyway, but I just needed MORE to really enjoy it and believe it.

I think my biggest issue with Octavia Bloom and the Missing Key is the pacing. I noticed really early on that there was a big problem with the pacing and that was just very jarring for me. I’m not going to go in spoiler territory, but at one point, the girls are supposedly travelling across the kingdom, and about four events happen in the space of half a page, the quest is over with a snap of the fingers and I just thought “wait, is that it?”. This happened a few times in the book, especially around the middle and just made me want to throw the book across the room. I know this is a book for children, but I just really struggled with it and I think that children would notice as well.

I gave this book 3 stars (full ASPECTS rating below) mainly because I found the pacing to be very off, very jarring and it kept pulling me out of the story. I got confused about where I was, who I was reading about and what they were up to. However, the pacing did even out a little bit at the end, but it was still a little iffy in my opinion. But aside from the pacing and the lack of world-building/character development, I did enjoy this book and I liked the writing style. I think this was a bit of a fast set-up for the following books, so hopefully, there will be more in the next ones.

If you like middle-grade fantasy with a group of girls, a quest to save someone and something, an evil character trying to rule the world (so to speak), magic both dark and light and some cute animal companions, then I think you should try this book out!

That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed reading this post, see you soon, stay safe,

Ellie xx

ASPECTS RATING

Atmosphere – 5

Start – 7

Pacing – 2

Ending – 4.5

Characters – 4

Theme – 4

Style – 4

Total = 30.5

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If you would like to purchase this book, you can find it here: Amazon UK – Amazon FRAmazon USAbeBooksThe Book DepositoryAudible FRWaterstonesBarnes and NobleAudible UKBlackwell’sBetterWorldBooksWordery

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