Review: The Impossible Secret of Lillian Velvet by Jaclyn Moriarty

on Australian, Middle Grade, LoveOzKidLit
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The Impossible Secret of Lillian Velvet by Jaclyn Moriarty
Published by Allen & Unwin
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A magical book in the rich and whimsical world of the Kingdoms and Empires about a girl, a threat and a pickle jar filled with gold coins by the internationally bestselling and multi-award-winning author of The Stolen Prince of Cloudburst.

Lillian Velvet lives a very lonely life with her cold and remote Grandmother. That is, until her tenth birthday, when she is given a pickle jar of gold coins, along with a note with clear instructions: don't go out, don't open the door for anyone, and don't spend all your coins in one day.

What happens next seems impossible. The coins whisk Lillian away to a different time and place. There she meets a small boy in a circus about to be crushed to death; a lively family, each member in a distinctive form of mortal danger; a boy with a skateboard; and a girl who can Whisper. And a web of dangerous magic closing tight around it all.

Why is Lillian here? How is she supposed to help these new friends? And - most importantly - what happens if she fails?

An exciting tale in the magical Kingdoms and Empires world, where seemingly disparate elements are spun until all is revealed as one delicious, tantalising whole.


So this perfect series continues to be perfect, with the fifth instalment of Kingdoms and Empires. Lillian Velvet is quite possibly the most endearing child I’ve ever read, the story expansive and brimming with imaginative complexity and absolutely jammed packed with Mettlestones.

Similar to The Astonishing Chronicles of Oscar from Elsewhere, this book’s protagonist, Lillian Velvet, is also from Sydney. Though her situation is different, the story follows the familiar pattern of an unhappy child stumbling upon the world of Kingdoms and Empires, where magical adventure ensues. However, Lilian is only there for a brief incident before being shoved back to her home. What follows is a crisscross of adventure and mystery as Lillian pops in and out of the lives of various Mettlestons. It is quite an ambitious amount of story threads to hold together, and Jaclyn Moriarty does so marvellously, with a perfectly surprising but also somehow suddenly obvious conclusion. It is the sort of ending where you go ‘oh of course!’ while marvelling at how clever the author is, and wondering how you didn’t put it all together earlier.

As always, reviewing each book in a series where most of your favourite things are how incredible the author is at writing such powerful, whimsical and emotion filled stories perfect for children means occasionally repeating yourself. This book is all of those things and more, a little heart-wrenching but overall reading it feels like a warm hug. Everytime I think back on reading it I feel my heart warm.

I feel like this book definitely hinted that a few more Mettlestone cousins might get their own adventures, even though the story really intertwined through the current stories quite tightly, in a way that would also suggest it’s the final book.You can read my reviews of The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone, The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars, The Stolen Prince of Cloudburst and The Astonishing Chronicles of Oscar from Elsewhere for more gushing about this excellent series.

Check out all of Jaclyn's other work and follow her online via her website, Instagram and Twitter.