Book Review: RUMBLESTAR by Abi Elphinstone (Middle Grade Monday)

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: MG
Star Rating: 5 stars
Series: yes - first book



Eleven-year-old Casper Tock hates risks, is allergic to adventures and shudders at the thought of unpredictable events. So, it comes as a nasty shock to him when he accidentally stumbles into Rumblestar, an Unmapped Kingdom full of magical beasts. All Casper wants is to find a way home, but Rumblestar is in trouble.

An evil harpy called Morg is sending her followers, the Midnights, into the kingdom to wreak havoc and pave the way for her to steal the Unmapped magic for herself. But Casper cannot turn a blind eye because the future of his own world, he discovers, is bound up with that of the Unmapped Kingdoms.

And so, together with Utterly Thankless, a girl who hates rules and is allergic to behaving, and her miniature dragon, Arlo, Casper embarks upon an adventure full of cloud giants, storm ogres and drizzle hags. Can he, Utterly and Arlo, the unlikeliest of heroes, save the Unmapped Kingdoms and our world from the clutches of Morg and her Midnights?

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


RUMBLESTAR is an exciting ride of a Middle Grade Fantasy adventure. Set in a hidden world that manages our weather, Abi Elphingstone has embraced a world which is so quirky and doesn’t care for the “common sense” of adults. This wild abandon of imagination is what I love most about Middle Grade, and this book has it in spades.

The different areas of Rumblestar provide human weather – from the grumpy river hags to the mindfullness-practicing snow trolls – the magic is a delight to play around with. Talking hot air balloons and bizarre names included. I was laughing out loud frequently – reading snippets out to my coursemates between lectures (to their general confusion as I provided NO context what so ever).

Among the magic, though, there was a serious message about climate change. Even though the hurricanes-a-day are the work of magic gone wrong, there is an underlying message that the weather in the world is not right, and it can’t be waved away. I loved that this book brings the most pressing challenge of the times to young readers – and that there are lesson plans about climate change on the publisher’s website around this book for schools to use.

The main character, Casper, uses timetables and lists to manage his anxiety. His journey to no longer needing the lists was brilliant. However, ever better (and unexpected, unlike the anxiety) was the emotional intelligence he’s taught by the Snow Troll concerning the way some people can act after personal tragedy. It was explained in such a simple way, using fantastical analogies, but it was clear and really meaningful even though I wasn’t the target audience.

There is a prequel novella for this world – EVERDARK, a world book day book – but it’s not necessary reading to enjoy this. I didn’t know it existing until looking up the goodreads link. Do I wish I had read it first? Yes – it’s a book written in the world by the author, so it should be read. Plus I wonder if there were any references I missed. The prequel novella tells the story of the initial trapping of the harpy Morg (by different characters who are mentioned frequently but don’t turn up). As soon as I come off book buying ban, I will be picking up this novella! I will also be picking up the second book in this series (out later this year!)

Read my reviews of other books by Abi Elphinstone:

The Unmapped Chronicles (this series):

The Dreamsnatcher:



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