Emba Oak and the Terrible Tomorrows may not start with a knock at the door – as all good stories do – yet it is most definitely a thrilling adventure: action-packed, magical and brimming with peril, humour and heart.
Emba Oak hears a thwump, thwump, thwump sound from outside her cave and, armed with her scaring-off stone, decides to investigate … could it be a bear or a boar? Nope! It is something impossible … a dragon or rather, a phantom dragon! Whilst Emba’s friend, runaway blacksmith’s assistant and hero-in-training, Odolf doesn’t believe that Emba has seen a dragon, her guardian, Fred, does. She decides that it is time that Emba knows the truth of her birth. Fred had found a dragon egg and had brought it back to her cave to wait for it to hatch and, when it did, Emba was born, a girl with dragon scales covering her arms and legs.
Fred has protected and looked after Emba all her life and has given her a charm (seriously yucky, but also life protecting) to keep her hidden from a terrifying, dragon-obsessed sorcerer who will stop at nothing to get his hands on her blood for his own nefarious ends. It’s just a shame that Odolf may have unwittingly revealed her whereabouts to his henchmen.
Luckily for Emba, Fred also just so happens to be the Wise Hermit of Witchingford Wood and interpreter of the prophecies of the Tome of Terrible Tomorrows which reveals (sort of) that Emba will be safe if she remains in the cave. Which proves to be another impossibility when Emba wakes up to the discovery that Fred has gone missing and there is blood and a note …
And so begins an exciting, fast-paced and humorous adventure as Emba and Odolf undertake a mission to rescue Fred from the clutches of the evil sorcerer. And what an adventure they find themselves on! River monsters, thieves and bears not to mention a duchess with a penchant for executioner blocks. And then, there’s the twists, misunderstandings and revelations – just wonderful! Will Emba be able to save herself and her loved ones from a terrible fate?
Emba and Odolf are both endearing characters who have a close bond of friendship, bickering and teasing included, which brought plenty of humour to this magical adventure. They are supportive and encouraging towards each other, and are fiercely loyal. Emba is quick-thinking and clever and is willing to take risks to save those she loves. Odolf is impetuous and perhaps a little too easily tricked, but he shows great courage in facing his fears in order to help Emba and proves himself a wonderful friend.
I adored the writing style with its awareness of the ingredients of a good adventure which are then turned on their head to leave an exciting, enchanting adventure. Just brilliant! I also loved the chapter headings which are playful, alliterative and brought plenty of giggles – wonderful introductions to each chapter! And the ending! I’m so looking forward to Emba’s next adventure in The Beckoning Bones.
An utterly fantastic, fast-paced, fun-filled adventure, perfect for young adventurers of 9+.
Thank you to Maverick Publishing for providing me with an early copy in exchange for my honest opinion.