Book Review: HARLEY HITCH AND THE IRON FOREST by Vashti Hardy (Middle Grade Monday)

Title angled in black on yellow next to drawing of green-haired girl with a big spanner over her shoulders
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Age Range: Lower MG
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: yes - first book
Illustrator: George Ermos


Book cover for HARLEY HITCH AND THE IRON FOREST: title in gold above a girl with green hair with a wrench over her shoulder in a purple iron forest

Join Harley, her robot dog Sprocket and best friend Cosmo for problem-solving adventures and mysteries in Inventia, a world where science rules and technology grows in the forest; and where exploding science projects, giant slugs and runaway robots are all part of a normal school day.

The Iron Forest near Harley’s home is unlike any other – plants and trees grow cogs and hinges and other mechanical parts – and all of Inventia depends on it. So when a strange fungus is discovered, there’s a race to find a solution. Without essential parts for inventions, the town is quickly falling apart…

But just who or what is behind the mysterious infestation? Harley decides it’s up to her to save the day – with chaotic results!

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Vashti Hardy’s latest offering follows her STEM themes and quick pacing to bring another engaging adventure in an unique world bursting with colour and fun. Like many of her works, HARLEY HITCH sits in that soft zone between sci-fi and fantasy. It is a world of inventions and technology, robots and semi-mechanical animals. Metal parts grow on trees and fishes dispense cryptic advice. It leans a little more on the sci-fi side than the fantasy.

It’s the younger end of Middle Grade, a quick easy read half the thickness of her previous book and with much larger font. It’s a nice book to gulp down (I read the whole thing in the time it took the exceedingly long credits to roll in the second Lord of the Rings!)

Plus, it’s full illustrated, most of which are at least half page spreads of the scenes. I love illustrated books as they help bring the world to life, particularly visualising characters (which I am notoriously bad at!) With worlds as unique as Vashti Hardy’s, it’s so nice to see it exactly as she envisioned it, in all its quirky glory.

HARLEY HITCH contains a message about the delicate nature of ecosystems and how vital they are to everyday life. As well as promoting innovation and enthusiasm for solutions, it’s also a bit of cautionary tale about not rushing into things untested or unresearched.

It’s the first in a new series. I’m not quite sure when the next one is due, given she has quite a busy release schedule (3 different books out this year!) However, I shall be on the look out for it!

Read my reviews of other books by Vashti Hardy:

Harley Hitch (this series):


Ghost Machine:


Griffin Gate (Barrington Stoke):

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