The Map To Everywhere by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis

8/10 Those who love sailing the magical waters along with Fin and Marrill will be itching to read the nex

To master thief Fin, an orphan from the murky pirate world of the Khaznot Quay, the Map is the key to finding his mother. To suburban schoolgirl Marrill, it’s her only way home after getting stranded on the Pirate Stream, the magical waterway that connects every world in creation. With the help of a bumbling wizard and his crew, they must scour the many worlds of the Pirate Stream to gather the pieces of the Map to Everywhere — but they aren’t the only ones looking. A sinister figure is hot on their tail, and if Fin and Marrill can’t beat his ghostly ship to find the Map, it could mean the destruction of everything they hold dear!

I’d say the cover by Todd Harris pretty much sums up what you get in this romp of a fantasy. There’s the Pirate Stream, the two main characters, Fin and Marrill, and a hint of the map-driven adventures they will go on.

Although Marrill comes from contemporary America, the most part of the story takes place in imaginary worlds, all connected by a magical waterway – the Pirate Stream. There’s a hint of Time Bandits about it, if you remember the film.

It’s a dual narrative – we switch between the two children’s points of view, and it’s pleasing to get the different perspectives on the same events. Fin’s rather poignant forgettableness is an engaging idea, especially when he is an orphan. Marill’s background as the child of explorers makes her lively character credible – and it is entertaining and sometimes downright funny to see their relationship develop.

The villain of the piece, Serth, with his black tears, is rather disturbing. This could upset a sensitive child – but for most confident readers, the overall tone makes the conflict bearable. We expect good to succeed – but we do want to know how!

Having extra features on the website is a nice touch. My only real reservation is the gender balance. It’s great to have two equal child characters – but other than a talking tree, Leferia, the main secondary characters are largely male. I do hope there will be more female characters in the next book.

Putting that to one side, this a series of imaginative escapades with a pervading sense of friendship at its heart. Although this story has a definite end, there is a kind of epilogue that lets you know there’s more to come. Those who love sailing the magical waters along with Fin and Marrill will be itching to read the next instalment.

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