A clock of stars: Beyond the mountains by Francesca Gibbons

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This is the second book in the Clock of Stars trilogy, and I haven’t read the first book which I feel put me at a disadvantage with some of the story, however I really enjoyed this book even though there were points where I knew that I was missing key information. 

In Beyond the Mountains Imogen and Marie are in their world after returning from Yaroslav but they are struggling to get back to normal, Imogen is in therapy as she keeps insisting that she has had an unbelievable adventure while visiting a fantastical world, frustrated at not being believed and struggling with the addition of Mark, mum’s boyfriend she decides to take matters into her own hands and return to Yaroslav with Marie, except this time they also drag Mark along for the journey. 

When they arrive, they find a whole new world, Anneshka is no longer queen and is very unhappy about it and Miro has taken the throne and is hating it.  After hearing that Marie might be the key to Anneshka becoming the Queen of the Greatest Kingdom, she seizes her and heads over the mountains with Imogen and Miro in pursuit.  What they find will change everything in ways they could never have imagined.

This is an enjoyable book that is enhanced by Chris Riddell’s illustrations that perfectly capture the mode and adventure of the story, although I would recommend that it is read after the first book so that some of the more subtle storylines make sense. I really appreciated how the author discusses Imogen’s mental health issues without ever laboring the point. The inclusion of therapy, ‘worry creatures’ and thoughts and feelings that Imogen struggles to give voice to really makes this book a great one to share with teenagers and those who might be stuck in feeling there is something wrong with them.  The story is not a joyful one and even tends to lean a bit into the horror genre at times however as events unfold both good and bad the reader will want to keep turning pages to find out what happens. The story does end with the reader expecting to return to Yaroslav and Imogen and Marie’s story.  This is a brilliant story and one that I highly recommend especially to readers who are fans of Narnia.

Themes: Family, Mental health, Fear, Fantasy, Sorcery, Friendship, Monsters, Magic.

Mhairi Alcorn