Thursday 11 May 2023


Book review: Serpent of the Sands (The Brightstorm Chronicles #4) by Vashti Hardy

I'm such a big fan of Vashti Hardy! She's had me hooked on her adventurous middle grade reads ever since I had the joy to review her debut Brightstorm back in 2018 – and I'm thrilled she's continuing the series beyond the original trilogy. While initially I felt a slight disappointment that her latest novel would not focus on the Brightstorm twins any more, I needn't have worried, as the character of Gan has now stolen my heart too. 

Princess Ganzorig, Gan to her friends, has a rebellious spirit. When her uncle falls incredibly ill, rather than staying at the Citadel in case she needs to step up to support her people, she sneaks away on a what seems to be an impossible mission: find the Serpent of the Sands from a children's story in the hopes that he is guarding a cure that can help her uncle. 

She sets off alone on her journey in a sky-ship she built with the help of materials and guidance from her friend Maddie Brightstorm. Thankfully Gan isn't solo in her quest for long. She's soon joined by Slink, a sapient gerbil, and Thorn, a boy who's escaped the slums of Lontown in search of a better future. Together, the three travel to The Floating City, The House of Chimes, and other incredible places that seem to come straight out of a fairy tale.

But their adventure is a treacherous one, filled with unexpected encounters and peril. And, on top of that, they're followed by an evil organisation that's trying to turn sapient animals and humans against one another, and they need control of the Citadel to aid their cunning scheme...

Vashti Hardy is the queen of writing imaginative adventure stories. And with Serpent of the Sands, she's opened a whole new world for readers to explore. From the Citadel, which feels far more mystical than Lontown, through to an invisible city in the sea. Her attention to detail in the world-building is incredible, each of the locations practically leapt of the pages. It's really expanded the world of Brightstorm and provides many opportunities for further explorations in the future.

Gan was a fantastic protagonist to journey along with. While she was already a smaller character in a previous Brightstorm novel, at the time she was overshadowed by Maddie, Arthur, and Harriet (and rightfully so, it was their story, after all). However, this time she got a chance to step into the spotlight. I love how headstrong and righteous she was in her mission to help her uncles and the sapient animals she encountered on her journey. Not to mention how capable and cool she was while steering her sky-ship and scaling the walls of the Citadel. 

While I hugely enjoyed this read and there was a decent amount of explanation when new terms or characters were introduced, readers will get the most out of this novel if they've also read the original Brightstorm trilogy. It gives a lot more depth and background to what's happening at the edges of the main story, with the evil society HAC and the division between sapient animals and humans that's spreading from Lontown. 

Serpent of the Sands is a fantastic addition to the world of Brightstorm. It introduces a whole new host of characters for readers to fall in love with and locations to be swept away with. I, for one, cannot wait to read more about the adventures of Gan, Thorn and, of course, Slink. And I'm especially curious to find out how their journeys will intertwine again with that of Arthur and Maddie Brightstorm when the inevitable, ultimate battle between the HAC and those wanting to live peacefully with sapients will commence...

Serpent of the Sands by Vashti Hardy is published today by Scholastic and you can now buy a copy from your favourite local book shop!

Disclaimer: This book was gifted to me by the publisher, but this has not impacted this honest review.

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