‘If crawling through the Z-bed and into Roar was a dream, then I should’ve woken up back in the attic. But I’m not in the attic…One thing I know for certain; I’ve been here before.’
Secret doorways that lead to another world provide a wealth of imaginative possibilities for children, from wardrobes to mirrors, but have you ever entered a portal through a folded bed? This was a game Arthur used to play in the attic with his twin Rose when they were younger, although nowadays Rose is far more interested in hanging out with other friends and dismisses any of Arthur’s recollections of climbing through a foldup bed stored in the attic to travel to another land.
Grandad remembers though and Arthur’s scar on his hand makes him think that perhaps the game wasn’t that imaginary. When Grandad disappears through the foldup bed, Arthur knows he has to return to a nearly forgotten world to rescue him, but he has to convince Rose that the Land of Roar exists. Full of magical creatures – dragons, mermaids, a ninja wizard called Win and creepy scarecrow, Arthur’s return to Roar should be full of familiar characters, but there have been changes. Crowky the scarecrow has now amassed a scarecrow army and giant cracks have appeared across the landscape, that creak and widen unexpectedly. With their grandad’s life ebbing away can Arthur reach the Crow’s nest in time and can Rose even believe in power of her imagination to create this world any more.
McLachlan has written a story that implores children to stay true to their imagination by reminding them of the magic they can create. From the unassuming entrance of a juice-stained mattress to the magical battle on dragons in the skies above Roar, readers will find themselves galloping into adventures that will both excite and frighten. Ben Mantle’s character illustrations pepper the story with drama and humour with ill-timed comedic ninja wizards, fearless Lost Girls tribe and stark silhouettes of the villainous Croaky. The truest story that McLachlan writes is that of Arthur and Rose – siblings growing apart but united in a quest to save their grandad and claim their titles as Masters of the Land of Roar. A thrilling beginning to a new middle-grade series where McLachlan melds the magic of Cressida Cowell with the child-like adventure of JM Barrie, in with her own unique style.
(c) Olivia Hope
Olivia Hope is a children’s writer from Killarney, Co. Kerry. She was once an international athlete, has been a teacher of all subjects; from English to ice-cream making, and has worked in a variety of scenarios from nurseries (plants and children, although not at the same time unless you count the daffodil incident) to nursing homes. She writes for all ages and her picturebook ‘Be Wild, Little One’ will be published by Bloomsbury in 2020. Follow her on twitter @OliviaMHope.
Order your copy of The Land of Roar here.