The Astonishing Chronicles of Oscar from Elsewhere by Jaclyn Moriarty
Published by Allen & Unwin
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The magical fourth book in the rich and whimsical world of the Kingdoms and Empires about a non-magical boy called Oscar who finds himself caught up in a surprisingly urgent quest in an even more surprising world.
Let me get this straight. I'm on a trip with the following people: 1) Bronte, a girl who makes magical 'Spellbinding' rings, 2) Alejandro, a former pirate/current prince who can shoot arrows and make fire from stones, 3) Imogen, who can read broken maps and is a kickboxing master, 4) Esther, who saved her entire world from some kind of ancient monster, 5) Astrid, a smart ten year old who can read minds, and 6) Gruffudd, a surprisingly speedy (and always hungry) Elf. And who am I? Just a kid who skips school to ride a skateboard.
The Astonishing Chronicles of Oscar from Elsewhere is the account of Monday through Friday of last week. That's when Oscar found himself on a quest to locate nine separate pieces of a key, held by nine separate people, in order to unlock a gluggy silver spell that had trapped the Elven city of Dun-sorey-lo-vay-lo-hey. The quest was an urgent one. Friday at noon, the spell would become permanent, the Elves would be crushed to death and Oscar would be trapped in this magical world forever. (The account, it should be noted, has been written at the request of a small public school's Deputy Principal. She wants to know exactly what Oscar considered more important than coming to school last week.)
From the award-winning Jaclyn Moriarty comes an enchanting tale of cryptic challenges, breathtaking danger and 360 kickflips.
I read this book and wrote most of a review enthusing about how incredible it was while heavily pregnant a bit over 2 years ago. It’s a little shorter than usual, but when I found the draft I thought I should definitely post it, given it’s one of my favourite series, and I am about to read the most recent book.
The Astonishing Chronicles of Oscar from Elsewhere is the fourth book in Jaclycn Moriarty’s Kingdom and Empires series, and exceeds every expectation. Everytime a new book in this series comes out I am utterly delighted. It's always a lovely little surprise since each book would be entirely readable and satisfying if she never wrote another one. But then she does, and they’re always fantastic and exactly the story you didn't realise the series needed. Even though I love her other books, if she only ever wrote Kingdom and Empire books for the rest of time I would not complain (more please).
The story follows Oscar, a child from Sydney, who stumbles across the world of Kingdoms and Empires, a few of the Mettlestones and discovers adventure. Imogen Mettlestone provides alternative points of view throughout the book which I loved. I thought the way both their differences and similarities were teased out through the progress of the story and how this impacted their understanding of each other and their relationship was really well done.
Jaclyn Moriarty writes with incredible skill about children dealing with complex, difficult problems while also having elaborate magical adventures and developing wonderful friendships. She manages this in a way so perfect for the audience, but also really impressive to an adult reader.
I cried several times in this, especially as I realised what Oscar's home situation was. Possibly as an adult, the severity of what these children are facing is more immediately obvious, and heartbreaking. I would hope for younger readers it would provide either a way to feel understood in their own pain or empathise with situations many children are facing in the real world while still providing a fantastical escape.
I just really love this series, and can’t wait to see who we get to meet next. For more Jaclyn Moriarty praise, you can read previous reviews for the rest of the books, The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone, The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars and The Stolen Prince of Cloudburst.
You should check out all of Jaclyn's other work and follow her online via her website, Instagram and Twitter.