[Island of the Aunts]: A Review

Hi y’all! 

We are enjoying the last few weeks of summer vacation around here. I have to admit that I am feeling more and more ready for school to start. The routines and experiences that come with school are just so nice! I’m read for of that in our lives again.

Today I am here with another review. One of the hardest things about reading 100 books in a year is not actually reading them — it’s reviewing them here! Haha! I have found myself constantly in a deep review hole so here I am again playing catch up. I am excited to share my thoughts on The Island of the Aunts by Eva Ibbotson. 

Initial Thoughts:

  • I have raved about my childhood favorite, The Secret of Platform 13 by Ibbotson before and I was excited to read more from her. I think her books are so fun and magical. I’d recommend them for middle grade readers — about 2nd-3rd grade and up. She doesn’t quite hold my younger kids’ attentions right now. 
  • Fun fact: Ibbotson’s books are mentioned in the Penderwick series as some of Jane Penderwick’s favorite books. I aspire to read more of them myself. I found this book at my favorite local secondhand bookstore. 

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According to Goodreads, “When the kindly old aunts decide that they need help caring for creatures who live on their hidden island, they know that adults can’t be trusted. What they need are a few special children who can keep a secret-a secret as big as a magical island. And what better way to get children who can keep really big secrets, than to kidnap them! (After all, some children just plain need to be kidnapped.) Don’t miss this wildly inventive and funny read from master storyteller Eva Ibbotson.

Eva Ibbotson has a talent for creating fantastic fantasy stories like this one. Her books have such fun, clever premises. In this one, the aunts need help caring for the magical creatures on their island. I loved the fantasy creatures and how they’re part of our world. The interactions with mermaids, selkies, a giant bird and a huge worm. They were all introduced in fun ways and the hard work that goes into their care is impressive and fun. I also loved the Kraken and his role in the seas. The way he brings happiness and peace are really lovely. 

The characters are either fantastic or horrible in true Ibbotson style. I don’t usually feel luke warm are her characters. They are either so fun to cheer for or impossible to like. Minette and Fabio are likable and I enjoyed their journeys. I loved how hard they work and how they find meaning and support in the ways they are needed on the island. I loved their ending. Lambert was super annoying and seemed to embody selfishness and stubbornness. I did feel bad for him once we meet his horrid father and see how he’s treated. Interesting relationships to think about as a parent. The aunts are fantastic. Quirky, loving, hard working and surprising. I loved them and how we get to know them all through the story.

While I really enjoy Ibbotson novels, there are some slow parts. These are not the action packed, plot twisting stories of the Harry Potter novels. Although they have their dark elements that make them better for middle grade rather than small children. There are several points in this book that made me pause like the kidnapping of children and the magical creatures. There are chapters that are a little less exciting and the action is not as twisting and jaw dropping as more mainstream fantasy novels. But perhaps that is part of the charm. These are simple, clever stories that have unique plots and fun characters. And they don’t aspire to be anything else. I appreciate the change of pace and the fun stories like this one.

This is such a fun story. I love the quirky characters and fantasy elements. There are some slow moments and some darker moments as well. Still, I enjoyed it. Ibbotson is a favorite of mine and this is a fun novel!

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What are your favorite fantasy novels that aren’t bestsellers?
Any Ibbotson fans? Which are your favorite novels?

2 thoughts on “[Island of the Aunts]: A Review

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