Jungledrop is an exhilarating, magical adventure brimming with action, excitement and warmth which is set in a stunning glow-in-the-dark rainforest. It is the second book in the Unmapped Chronicles series after the equally superb Rumblestar: I was so pleased to be briefly reacquainted with one of the characters from it – just like meeting an old friend!
There is nothing endearing about the Petty-Squabble parents who are intent on building their empire with no regard whatsoever for the feelings of others, including that of their children. Their twins, Fox and Fibber, have been brought up to abide by the family motto: Do not be afraid to stamp all over other peoples’ feelings. And that is exactly what they do – they are rude, unkind and nasty – especially towards each other as sibling rivalry is encouraged by their parents. And yet? I felt sympathy for them from the beginning which is a testament to the quality and depth of the writing.
Fibber and Fox are the product of their upbringing and have shielded themselves from hurt and the absence of love by building walls and battling against each other to earn their parents’ approval. This leads to jealousy, mistrust and, well, just plain nastiness towards each other, yet there are glimmers of hope that, deep down, they have better attributes than those they display openly, but will they ever have the courage and strength to reveal what they have hidden deep inside?
I must admit that the twins are not typical heroes, but their opportunity to save not one world, but two soon arrives when they find themselves taking the Here and There Express train to the Unmapped Kingdom of Jungledrop where they meet a young Unmapper, Iggy Blether and his intuitive and rather intrusive parrot, Heckle who repeats what people are thinking, not what they are saying – brilliant and insightful! Iggy shares the imminent destruction of Jungledrop by the evil harpy Morg and her Midnight minions, and reveals to the twins that the fate of both their world (the Faraway) and Jungledrop lies with them …
So begins an incredibly exciting action-packed adventure with our reluctant and unlikely heroes as they journey through the awe-inspiring jungle in a daring and dangerous quest where they strive to save Jungledrop. An adventure where they travel on magical unicycles, meet golden panthers, navigate with a Flickertug map and so, so much more that truly astounded me and left me in awe of both the story-telling and the world-building.
The world-building is absolutely incredible, a symphony for the imagination, with a master conductor who immerses the reader in the wonders of a richly imagined world: sights, sounds, flora and fauna all blend perfectly from the glow-in-the dark rainforest to the swiftwings, golden panthers and gobblequick trees.
Will the twins be able to work as a team, open themselves to new friendships and trust in each other, or will betrayal, rivalry and suspicion destroy any chance of success as they navigate a perilous quest to defeat Morg and overcome their own inner fears?
Fibber and Fox’s emotional journey and transformation is beautifully portrayed and really accentuates the importance of both self-belief and having others believe in you, in treating others as you would want to be treated. The powerful messages scattered throughout the story are incredibly uplifting and heart-warming.
To be kind is to be strong.
Jungledrop is an absolute must-read: a heart-warming magical fantasy that swept me into an incredible, action-packed adventure in a sumptuously rich world, and kept me enthralled throughout and left me, as always, in awe of Abi’s sheer story-telling brilliance!
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers, Simon & Schuster for an e-ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.