Review: Skyborn

Just wow! Skyborn is an electrifying adventure that transported me into an exhilarating, richly drawn world, captured my heart and left me with the sigh of satisfaction I get when I’ve finished something very special: a story that will stay with me for a long time, and one I will want to read again and again. This will make a perfect class read-aloud and, luckily for me, I’m a teacher, so I can indulge my love for this story and read it aloud to my class. This is a prequel to Eye of the North, but can easily be read as a standalone, although I would definitely recommend that you read it too!

The story opens with an intriguing prologue which takes place 20 years before the main events; it sets the wheels in motion perfectly for the epic adventure that follows. 

Having already read Eye of the North (twice), I already knew some tantalising background for Bastjan, so I was eager to find out more about his origin story – and what a breath-taking, heart-pounding and, at times, heart-breaking story it is!

Bastjan is a part of a tumbling troupe at the Quinn Family Circus, a circus run by his stepfather Cyrus Quinn.   Summoned to Quinn’s caravan, he is blackmailed into performing on the high wire in return for something he desperately wants:  his late mother’s treasure box.  Hidden in these treasures, he finds a locked enamelled box which he is able to hide from Quinn before the remainder of the treasures are taken again.  Quinn is hoping that a death-defying performance on the high wires will draw in the crowds he needs to save the circus from financial ruin.  Will the young son of the woman, who fell to her death during her trapeze act, be able to fly high above the sawdust of the big tent floor, and save the circus from ruin?

But Bastjan is not the only one desperate to have his late mother’s possessions.  A mysterious stranger, Dr Bauer (if you know, you know!), is desperate to get his hands on it too, so offers a loan to save the circus as a means to obtain his goal.  Can Bastjan keep his most precious possession, a possession that links him to his mother’s legacy, out of the hands of these two cruel, determined men?

When summoned to another town to perform for Dr Bauer, who wishes to check on his investment, Bastjan has the good fortune to meet young runaway, Alice.  So begins THE most dazzling, action-packed, danger-laden  kaleidoscope of an adventure that had me on the edge-of-my-seat and unable to stop reading as Bastjan and Alice race to uncover the secrets hidden within his mother’s box, a race that will take them on an incredible journey …

Bastjan and Alice are the most wonderful characters who I absolutely adored; I really cared about what happened to them. They are incredibly brave, resilient and determined and face their fears head-on. They become firm and loyal friends who are prepared to take risks for each other, and to offer support and encouragement when needed.

The world-building is stunning. I was immediately wholly immersed in the sights, sounds and life of the circus, both the behind-the-scenes gruelling practice and the danger and excitement of performances. But what really captured me was the feeling of family, a close-knit group of talented performers who have been brought together to entertain others, who face the joy and hardship of circus life as a team under a power-hungry and ruthless owner. I especially loved the relationship between Bastjan and Crake, the circus strongman who is like a father to Bastjan and clearly cares deeply for him.

Skyborn is an exhilarating, action-packed and utterly breathtaking adventure that completely captivated me from start to finish. An absolute must-read!

Thank you to Little Tiger for an early copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

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