Bloodstone by Allan Boroughs

Moontrug is big on adventures – from little ones like climbing the pear tree in the back garden to BIG FAT ones like motor-biking through Burma – because they always throw up unexpected story ideas. And it turns out another author, Allan Boroughs, has been doing some uber cool adventuring in the run up to writing his books. His debut novel for 9+ years, Ironheart, saw him journeying through Siberia to research plot and setting ideas and for the sequel, Bloodstone, Boroughs trekked across Antarctica to find his story. He jumped into the icy Antarctic sea IN JUST HIS SWIMMING TRUNKS and he even wrote some of his research notes next to a penguin!

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Apprenticed to notorious tech-hunter Verity Brown, India Bentley has spent the last year travelling the globe, finding and selling long-lost technology and doing her best to stay out of trouble. Unfortunately, trouble has a habit of finding her. Accused of an assassination attempt and thrown in jail, India is rescued by scientist-adventurer Professor Moon: a man obsessed with finding the Bloodstone – key to a source of unlimited energy hidden in the lost city of Atlantis. Now Moon wants India and Verity to join his quest. Pursued by gangsters, lumbered with a stowaway and haunted by ghosts of her past, India must risk everything to uncover Atlantis’ secrets. But truth comes at a price…

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The story moves at a cracking pace with Chapter One seeing India and Verity escape from an explosion to find themselves perilously see-sawing from the edge of a bridge over a valley dropping away hundreds of metres below them… From there they are catapulted into an adventure just as daring as their first (to find the legendary fortress of Ironheart). The character names are fab, from Sing City bar owner Two-Buck Tim to eye-ball collector Lady Fang (she reminded Moontrug of Mr Carter in Eva Ibbotson’s Journey to the River Sea, a sinister man who collects the glass eyes of famous people). And the characters are carried through the story on a number of fabulous modes of transport – Moontrug’s favourite was Professor Moon’s airship. Very magical indeed.

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The stowaway India finds herself landed with – Tito – provides welcome comic relief to the plot’s action and he has some of the funniest lines in the book when he gets famous sayings mixed up: ‘There is plenty of room in here to swing a gnat’ and ‘All I have to do is explain that I am the monk of the brotherhood and Robert is your mother’s brother,’ to which India replies ‘I think you mean, “Bob’s your uncle.” ’ Boroughs creates a properly engaging world – where terrifying hellhounds lurk, a Bloodstone lies hidden and ridiculous monks worship recycling gods: ‘May your parts be fully recycled and may you always return as something eternally useful’ – and a powerful Antarctic setting where great whales arch out of the ocean and eerie monsters brood in the icy depths. Bloodstone is a fantastic middle grade adventure in which, as the author himself says, ‘a lot of stuff happens.’