My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Opal Moonbaby reads a little like Pippi Longstocking meets Dodie Smith (I was very much reminded of I Capture the Castle and The Starlight Barking for example) with a sprinkle of Jacqueline Wilson-esque social commentary thrown in for good measure.
I really enjoyed this. It’s got a certain, almost old-fashioned, charm to it that makes you fall for Opal and Martha and root for them to become friends and yet it feels like a modern day fairy tale / sci-fi spin on something like the Famous Five . That’s quite an intriguing angle to take in an industry that feels like it’s dominated solely by magic and vampires.
Having a plot that heavily concerns the ramifications of being bullied, it’s easy to fall into didactic writing. There were a few moments when we stray towards the edge of this, but overall Smith handles Martha’s journey with a perceptiveness that is very well done. I felt that the eventual ‘redemption’ of one of the main characters (no spoilers here!) was handled caringly and convincingly.
There’s a lot of potential here and I’ll be interested to see if this does spawn a sequel.
(And it’s going to make me go back to read some Dodie Smith which is never a bad thing).