The Story of Cirrus Flux by Matthew Skelton
|The Story of Cirrus Flux by Matthew Skelton|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Stefan Bachmann|
|Summary: Richly imagined, compelling and atmospheric, The Story of Cirrus Flux is quite the page-turner and a great summer read for all fans of historical fantasy.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 336||Date: June 2009|
Cirrus Flux is growing up in a home for foundling children just outside 18th century London. Twelve years ago, his father sailed away to sea in search of a mysterious substance called The Breath of God. He was never seen again. All Cirrus has to remember him by is a small metal globe. And somebody wants to take it from him. A shadowy figure is watching the home with a spyglass and there is a strange fiery bird patrolling the skies above.
When Matthew Skelton's debut, Endymion Spring, hit the shelves three years ago, it was surrounded by every scrap of hype the publisher could muster. There was talk of editors fighting tooth-and-nail over the manuscript, of movie-deals, translations, the author's own rags-to-riches story...
I was twelve when I first saw Endymion Spring at my favorite bookshop and, being happily oblivious to all the fuss, bought it entirely on the strength of its glossy, strikingly-textured cover. I remember thinking it was good but not terribly special.
Even so, I was excited to have the chance to review Matthew Skelton's second book and began reading it right away, without knowing exactly what to expect. The first thing I discovered was that despite similar packaging, The Story of Cirrus Flux is not a sequel to Endymion Spring. It's a definite standalone with all-new characters and storyline. Also, while Spring's main storyline was set in present-day England and firmly grounded in reality, Cirrus Flux is solely historical and thus feels much more like an out-and-out fantasy. The second thing I discovered was that it's huge fun!
Really, it has everything a good book needs. The characters are some of the best I've read in a while, all of them (bad-guys included) three-dimensional human beings. The plot hurtles along at a great pace; there are tons of fascinating period detail, some really fantastic visuals... Mathew Skelton has always had a flare for descriptive writing, creating lushly atmospheric settings for his characters to frolic about in. Especially the fantasy imagery - a hot air-balloon with a very unique form of propulsion, an all-seeing telescope, etc - pop right off the page and seem just begging to be seen on the big screen.
Cirrus Flux isn't perfect, though. A half a Bookbag star will have to be knocked off because of the ending. It just felt rushed, even a bit clumsy. Some of the sub-plots, like the origins of the flaming bird, and the one involving Cirrus's father, are resolved in an oddly half-hearted manner. Other threads are never tied up at all. Matthew Skelton tries to cover up this blemish with effect extravaganzas, explosions, last-second rescues... It didn't quit cut it for me. Excitement is all very well and good, but I'd prefer some proper answers.
It also bears mention that, while never actually graphic, there are quite a few dark moments. I can't elaborate as it would spoil the plot, so suffice it to say I wouldn't recommend this book for sensitive children.
The rest of us don't mind that sort of thing, though, so for us, and even for adults, it's a great summer read, fast-paced and gripping, full of action and atmosphere. I recommend it.
I would like to thank Puffin for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
Further reading suggestion: In my opinion, Sally Gardner's The Silver Blade is still the epitome of teen historical fantasy. Cirrus Flux came close, but not quite. Blade is very dark, though, so if you're looking for something similar yet light and bouncy, there's not much that can top the Larklight trilogy by Phillip Reeve. Bookbag has reviewed Mothstorm, the final of the series, for you.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Story of Cirrus Flux by Matthew Skelton at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Story of Cirrus Flux by Matthew Skelton at Amazon.com.
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