When you are looking for a ray of sunshine then a new book by Conrad Mason is just the tonic. The Girl In Wooden Armour will be published on 1st April, 2021 by David Fickling. The book cover illustration is amazing; I have been recently informed it's been produced by the talented illustrator George Ermos (one of my favourite illustrators). It certainly enticed me and made me want to dive in straight away. After reading other books by Conrad Mason, I have a certain expectation of what to find. This did not fail but it lived up to my expectations in different ways.
The story is about sorcery, witchcraft, and possibly a warrior or two. It's very dark and essentially is a middle-grade fantasy horror story. Conrad Mason appears to be stretching his fantasy wings and going into new territory. Just like the main character in the book (Hattie), he is strapping on his wooden armour and getting ready to do battle with the readers' mind. It's a plot about a family that has secrets and a very unusual granny.
One day Hattie gets a mysterious letter calling for help so she and her younger brother Jonathan visit her granny for the first time in years. The plot thickens and the veil of an ancient evil is cast over the reader as the characters launch into their adventure. At this point, this is not what I was expecting; I was looking for pirate swashbuckling and some spilled grog. However, what we get is a very strange place called Brokewood-on Tandle (a great name for a place) and an all-action-packed narrative that will be loved by all armchair readers.
Unfortunately, Granny has disappeared and a dark shadowy place called the Un Forest is introduced. I really liked Un Forest and would have loved to have seen this explored in more detail. It had so much potential for the plotline and is what reading is all about - being transported to an imaginary world with mystery, mayhem, and madness. Nevertheless, we escape into a sinister world of scary monsters who are lurking around every corner (some of which would fit nicely into a Darren Shan novel). They are very imaginatively written and definitely sent shivers down my spine. Empathy is another element that has been injected into the story. It faces issues that many of us might be feeling at the moment: loneliness, sadness, and losing a loved one.
This is a great book with many twists and turns. It doesn't have a set agenda instead it is about good quality storytelling that will grip you and captivate your fantasy brain. It has a courageous female heroine who will be adored regardless of gender or age. It's a thrilling read with a dynamite ending to capture readers and light up their imaginations.