ARC Review: THE HATMAKERS by Tazmin Merchant (Middle Grade Monday)

I received an eARC from the publishers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Title in yellow on blue beneath a bright shop
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: MG
Star Rating: 3.5 stars
Series: Yes?


Book cover for THE HATMAKERS: title in smoke wrapped around a shop

Cordelia comes from a long line of magical milliners, who weave alchemy and enchantment into every hat. In Cordelia’s world, Making – crafting items such as hats, cloaks, watches, boots and gloves from magical ingredients – is a rare and ancient skill, and only a few special Maker families remain.

When Cordelia’s father Prospero and his ship, the Jolly Bonnet, are lost at sea during a mission to collect hat ingredients, Cordelia is determined to find him. But Uncle Tiberius and Aunt Ariadne have no time to help the littlest Hatmaker, for an ancient rivalry between the Maker families is threatening to surface. Worse, someone seems to be using Maker magic to start a war.

It’s up to Cordelia to find out who, and why . . .

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


THE HATMAKERS is a whimsical Middle Grade that blends magic into an alternate London.

The alternate universe England was a lot of fun to read. I like being able to spot the inspiration for locations in my home city as it gives me a little thrill – as if I have some ownership of the setting. It’s bizarre, but I love London so love to see it in books.

The time period was never specified, beyond a king called “George”. I’m assuming he’s meant to be George III, given he’s “silly” – and there’s a reference to Henry VIII being 200 years ago. The aesthetic felt a little out of place for Georgian when it came to the clothing, but the descriptions were rather vague.

The magic of Making was really nice. There’s nothing new in combining magic objects on items of clothing/accessories to enhance moods or characteristics, but it was presented in a fun, whimsical way. And the mishaps/outcomes got a few giggles from me (the duellers! The actor!).

I worked out the mystery from the first stolen object – villain, goal, motive, and endgame/final steps in the plan. I’m not sure if this is because it was well set up, obvious, or if I’ve just read enough books that I can find the clues very easily.

It did undercut the book a bit for me, because I was confident I had worked it out (and I had) from about the 20% mark. I knew where it was building towards, so there no surprise or mystery to pull me onwards. I was able to anticipate almost every event in the book, so I was simply waiting for things to happen. I doubt it’s a problem too many readers would have, but it was an unfortunate occurrence.

I think this is the first in a series. There is nothing specific on Goodreads, but the way the “blather” paragraph (as I call them – the stuff that’s meant to build hype without ever actually telling you about the book) about it being the first adventure in a new world makes me think there are more to come.


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