Review: The Way to Impossible Island

Written by Sophie Kirtley
Cover Illustration by Ben Mantle and Lettering by Patrick Knowles
Published by Bloomsbury

The Way to Impossible Island is a stunning, action-packed timeslip adventure linking the past to the present in such an exciting and mesmerising way.  It wholeheartedly captured me from the peril in the opening chapter to the wonderfully uplifting ending, transporting me into a richly evocative landscape with the most wonderful characters.

If you have already read Sophie’s first book, The Wild Way Home, then you will adore the links to characters in this story; however, this can certainly be read as a standalone although I’m certain you’ll want to pick up The Wild Way Home immediately after reading this if you haven’t already read it.

The story switches between two viewpoints:  Dara, who lives in the present, and Mothgirl who travels from the Stone Age to the present where both meet in a bid to fulfil personal goals and, in so doing, help and support each other whilst becoming firm friends.

The story opens with Mothgirl whose older brother, Hart, has gone missing.  Her home is under threat from the menacing and frightening leader of Vulture Clan who is intent on having Mothgirl join his clan where she will be expected to conform to the expectations for women of the clan.  However, Mothgirl is wonderfully free-spirited, strong-willed and determined to carve her own destiny so runs into the forest with her wolf, ByMySide, with whom she has a heartfelt bond which is such a vital part of the story, and one that I adored.  She is intent on finding her brother and saving her home from Vulture and, after an intriguing discovery by her wolf, they find themselves in a very changed landscape …

Dara is on holiday on the mainland close to Lathrin Island, a place he is determined to row to after his Big Operation in order to investigate the legend of the Golden Hare, but his dreams are shattered when his operation is delayed yet again, a delay that acts as a catalyst to propel Dara into making a decision to fulfil his goal to visit Lathrin Island, to go on an adventure beyond the mainland …

Whilst getting a boat to row across to the island, he finds a frightened girl wearing animal skins who desperately tries to escape by swimming to the island which forces Dara to overcome his fears and rescue her, leading both on the most incredible adventure, an adventure filled with danger, discovery and courage.

I adore the setting of this story and the appreciation of the natural environment.  Lathrin Island is an anagram of Rathlin Island off the North Coast of Northern Ireland, and, I believe, was the inspiration for the imagined island.  Even though I went to University in Coleraine and my sister lives there, I have yet to visit Rathlin Island, but now I really, really want to.  My sister’s partner kayaks a lot off the coast of Northern Ireland and has visited and tempted me with wonderful pictures of beautiful wild landscapes and animals including seals and puffins.

Photo by G Farrelly, Rathlin Island

This is a story of searching for the possible in the face of seeming impossibilities, of accepting who you are and believing in yourself.  Both children initially feel trapped, helpless and frustrated by their situations, but both have the courage to take action, action which leads them into an incredible adventure.  I loved the sense of empowerment felt by both Dara and Mothgirl as their belief in themselves, and each other, reveals their inner strength and determination to fulfil their goals, despite the hardships they both face.  Whilst wary of each other at first, they form a wonderful empathetic bond of friendship, working together to fight for survival and face their fears. 

This is an exhilarating and heartfelt adventure where the ancient past and present day meet through the hopes and fears of the most remarkable young characters who find each other at just the right time … an unforgettable story of friendship, family and acceptance.

Thank you to the Publisher and NetGalley for an e-ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.  I have now bought a physical copy for my class library.

This is my fourth book for my 20 (10) Books of Summer Reading Challenge which is hosted by Cathy Brown on her blog at

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