“Brightstorm” by Vashti Hardy, illus. by George Ermos

Thanks to the publisher, W.W. Norton, I was granted access to an ARC copy of this book on Netgalley. However, this does not affect my review of it.

I requested to review the book because I like the cover and the synopsis sounds like something I might like. I was right.


MG Fantasy


Brightstorm, book 1


March 17, 2020

Goodreads summary:

Critically acclaimed in the UK, Brightstorm is a fast-paced fantasy adventure novel that will set imaginations soaring.

Arthur and Maudie Brightstorm receive devastating news: their famous explorer father has died in a failed attempt to reach South Polaris. To make matters worse, the Lontown Geographical Society finds Ernest Brightstorm guilty of sabotaging the expedition of his competitor, Eudora Vane. But a mysterious clue leads the twins to question the story they’ve been told—and to uncover the truth, they must undertake the journey of a lifetime. Joining the ragtag crew of a homemade sky-ship captained by the intrepid Harriet Culpepper, Arthur and Maudie race to South Polaris to salvage their family’s reputation and find out what really happened on their father’s doomed expedition.

Brightstorm is a propulsive and compelling fantasy adventure set among the vibrant landscapes and dynamic characters of Vashti Hardy’s vividly imagined world. (Goodreads)

My thoughts:

Brightstorm was a fun read. It’s the first novel in a fast-paced, middle-grade fantasy series that has some steampunk influence and is about Arthur and Maudie Brightstorm, twins who we quickly learn are orphaned because their father, Ernest, a famous explorer, died on a recent expedition. His competitor, Eudora Vane, returns with this grim news and also tells the Lontown Geographical Society that Ernest and his crew attempted to steal supplies from her ship. The twins refuse to believe their father would ever do such a thing and, despite their bleak circumstances following their father’s death, decide to travel to South Polaris to learn the truth about their father’s death and clear his name.

Despite its fast pace, it took a while for me to become interested in the story. I guess it’s because I’m a bit tired of the evil caregiver trope — the twins are sent to live with an awful couple for a time — but once the twins secure passage on Harriet Culpepper’s fantastic airship, my interest in the story rose.

What I liked:

  • The airships, especially Harriet’s airship, which I can’t say much about because it would be a spoiler.
  • It’s illustrated. I loved that it is.
  • Adventures in South Polaris and meeting the thought wolves. (I wish there was a map, like an unfinished map, to hint that it’ll be filled out once the explorers discover new places.)
  • Harriet Culpepper — courageous yet caring and very smart. I immediately liked her when she was introduced, but I wish her character was more fleshed out. I wish the same for Maudie, who I liked as well. I wish she had more character development because she seems more like a shadow to Arthur and wouldn’t be missed if her character disappeared from the story.
  • Felicity Wiggety — I like any character who loves tea that much.
  • A disabled character is the protagonist (because that doesn’t happen often). Arthur has one arm. I love the crazy stories Maudie cooks up about how Arthur lost his arm, and how the twins work together to tie knots and such so that Arthur can learn several skills.
  • The end when the twins find a new family. That was sweet and what I was hoping for.

What I disliked:

  • Arthur. I didn’t like him. I thought he was controlling and a little selfish. However, I like that Maudie confronted him about this and his lack of caution, which could have dire consequences. I think that confrontation was probably my favorite part of the book.
Overall: ★★★☆☆

A fast-paced read that was quite enjoyable.

Buy | Borrow | Bypass
Quotes from the book:

“Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will. You can be comfortable or courageous — never both at once.”

“Family isn’t always what you’re born into. It’s what you do for each other and the experiences you go throught together that make a family.”


7 thoughts on ““Brightstorm” by Vashti Hardy, illus. by George Ermos

  1. I don’t pick up much MG lately but this cover has me wanting a copy for my shelf anyway? I think I’m pretty shallow when it comes to book sometimes LOL. Great review! I might have to give this one a try.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.