Book Review: BRIGHTSTORM by Vashti Hardy (Middle Grade Monday)

a yellow ship hanging under a big balloon with the title on, on blue
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: MG
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: Yes - first book


Book cover for BRIGHTSTORM: title in blue on yellow balloon with a ship below on a blue city scape

Twins Arthur and Maudie receive word in Lontown that their famous explorer father died in a failed attempt to reach South Polaris. Not only that, but he has been accused of trying to steal fuel from his competitors before he died!

The twins don’t believe the news, and they answer an ad to help crew a new exploration attempt in the hope of learning the truth and salvaging their family’s reputation. As the winged ship Aurora sets sail, the twins must keep their wits about them and prove themselves worthy of the rest of the crew.

But will Arthur and Maudie find the answers they seek? 

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


This is another gorgeous book from Vashti Hardy, who is fast becoming an absolute go-to for middle grade fantasy.

Just like with WILDSPARK, BRIGHTSTORM is also a genre-bending book. It’s a little more obvious that it’s fantasy, but the flying ships feel very much on the edge of sci-fi (and very steampunky) and the plot revolved around race to the south pole so this is also more adventure than classic fantasy!

I loved the flying ships. Exploration is always fascinating, but these ships mean the explorers can go further and faster, and all without out having the hack swathes through forests as they’re in the sky. Plus you can cross land and sea without worrying about changing vessel. The pitch they burn for fuel, though, has consequences.

Another advantage is the crew! The cast is full of eclectic, lovable characters. Only a few are focused on to avoid the pages being crowded, but as well as the twins there’s the friendly mentor/head of exploration, the maternal, very funny mama bear of a cook and the serious bulter/administrator. The cook’s dialect is also a lot of fun to read.

With a quest to find out what happened to their father, the book races through the air with Arthur and Maudie, right into the heart of the chilly south. There is a real range of locations described, which added to the exploration atmosphere as desert, arctic and bustling cities are all linked by a sky-ship’s race to be the first one to the pole.

I, um, may have broken my ban to buy the second book in the series (DARKWHISPERS) so I didn’t have to wait to continue this series. Picking it up now!

Read my reviews of other books by Vashti Hardy:

Brightstorm Chronicles (this series):

Harley Hitch:


Griffin Gate (Barrington Stoke):


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