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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Voyage to Magical North & The Journey to Dragon Island by Claire Fayers - Book Reviews, Interview & Giveaway

Reviews by Suze

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Brine was found at sea and she doesn't have any memories of what happened before that. The only possession she had was a piece of starshell, which is being used for spell casting, and that was taken from her. She's living with a magician and works for him as a housemaid. Brine is twelve years old and she's used to being treated badly, but her situation has an advantage too, she can read the books from his library. The magician has one apprentice, a boy Brine's age named Peter. He's arrogant and constantly blames Brine for his faults, but when things get tough they decide to escape together. 

Brine and Peter are being taken in by Pirates on a boat called the Onion. The captain of the ship, a fierce woman called Cassie, is legendary. Together with Cassie, her scary prisoner and her loyal crew they begin their journey. It doesn't matter if Brine and Peter want to go there or not, but Cassie will take them to the Magical North, which is a mythical place filled with magic. They encounter all kinds of danger on their way. Will Brine and Peter survive this terrifying voyage?

The Voyage to Magical North is a beautiful story. Brine is a strong girl. She loves to read and she's ingenious, plus she can keep her head cool in a crisis. I immediately enjoyed reading about her. Peter has a lot to learn, he's a bit naïve, but he quickly discovers how to do things and he has a good heart. The crew of the Onion is fantastic. They are pirates, but while they're treacherous, they're not unkind. I loved reading about their adventures and the spectacular myths that are surrounding them. Together with a rogue magician they are the perfect main characters for an adventurous and entertaining story.

Claire Fayers has a brilliant vivid imagination. Her world building is fantastic. I was immediately enchanted by the secret surrounding Brine's heritage, the impressive ship, the use of magic and the mysterious North. I couldn't wait to find out what was really there and was pleasantly surprised by Claire Fayer's colorful descriptions. The ending is great and I hope there will be another story as it left me terribly curious as well. I loved this fantastic, original story and highly recommend it to anyone who likes to read about magic.

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Brine and Peter are feeling perfectly at home on the Onion, a pirate ship with an adventurous crew. Cassie is their fearless leader and together they're on their way to their next destination, Dragon Island. They have a small dragon on board and their goal is to find others of its kind. Brine also hopes to discover more about her parents on this journey. She doesn't remember them, but hopes to unravel the mysteries of her past when she returns to where she's originally from.

When the Onion reaches Dragon Island the crew is in for a surprise. The island isn't a friendly place at all. There are hostile locals, creepy vines, dangerous creatures and secretive magi. Children aren't safe and something sinister is going on. There's also the threat of a volcano that can erupt any moment. On top of that Peter is trying to deal with the ghost of a powerful sorcerer. He hasn't used his magic for quite some time, but Peter needs to get over his reluctance if he wants to have a chance to survive. He and Brine are the only ones who can save their crew and all of the inhabitants of the strange island they're on. Will they succeed or are there too many obstacles standing in their way?

 The Journey to Dragon Island is another fantastic story by Claire Fayers about magic, dragons and pirates. I loved reading about Brine, Peter, Cassie and the rest of the crew of the Onion again. It was fun to see how Brine and Peter are now part of it and it feels like they've never been anywhere else. They've learned how to deal with unreliable pirates, they don't let someone trick them easily any longer and they are bravely battling their way out of every dire situation. I loved their friendship and fierceness. It's a great combination for another wonderful enchanting adventure.

Claire Fayers knows how to write a good fantasy story. She skillfully selects the exact right ingredients and then mixes them until a perfect story comes out. Dragon Island is an interesting setting, it has islanders who don't agree with each other, people are fighting for power, there's something strange going on and the mages are in the middle of it all. Finding out more about this fabulous enigmatic place kept me on the egde of my seat. Claire Fayers has written another brilliant spellbinding story, The Journey to Dragon Island is filled with unexpected twists and turns, crazy characters and wonderful intriguing monsters. I highly recommend this terrific story.


If you are a fan of dragons, pirates and magic The Accidental Pirates series is an absolute must-read. The stories are written for the 8-12 age range, but I think anyone will like these books. I'd advise you to read them in their correct order to fully understand the story.

About Claire Fayers

The official bit…

Claire Fayers writes comic fantasy featuring swashbuckling pirates, evil magicians, heroic librarians and man-eating pengiuns.

She grew up in South Wales, studied English in Canterbury, and is now back in Wales where she spends a lot of her free time tramping around castles in the rain, looking for dragons.

She has worked as a church caretaker, a shoe shop assistant, in accountancy, in health and safety, in IT, and in a library. Only one of these prepared her in any way for life as a full-time author.

Her first book came about quite accidentally after she won a writing competition. She was more surprised than anyone. That book, Voyage to Magical North, went on to debut as Waterstone’s Children’s Book of the Month and was shortlisted for the FCBG Children’s Book Award.

She works from her home in Cardiff and shares her workspace with a pair of demanding cats and an ever-expanding set of model dinosaurs.

And the fun bit…

When I was growing up I always thought that if you weren’t very good at something, you should get out of the way and let someone else do it. Now I’m a bit older, I know that this is silly. How are you going to get good at something if you don’t try it? Here is a top ten list of things I wasn’t very good at but I did them anyway.

Playing the cello
Growing carrots
Playing the piano
Zip-lining on holiday
Flying kites
Making cake (I’m much better at this now)
Indoor skydiving
Writing books (really! You should see my first drafts.)
Writing top ten lists!



1. Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

I asked a friend to describe me in three words and she said ‘crazy cat lady’, which is true. I’m also a crazy gardening lady. I have an allotment – a small plot of land, just down the road from my house – and I love spending time there.

I’ve been writing more years that I care to think about. I’m lucky enough to be writing full-time now, but I spent most of my working life balancing part-time jobs with part-time freelance writing. I’ve worked in a shoe shop, as a church caretaker, in health and safety, and (my favourite) as a library assistant.

2. You’ve had many different kinds of jobs, what did you learn from them and how do they influence your writing?

I didn’t really see them as fuel for writing at the time, though I should have! They were a way of making some steady money, because income from freelance work tends to be erratic. Thinking back, quite a few of my jobs were the sort where I was helping people and trying to see a problem from their perspective, which has certainly helped me get inside my character heads.

My work in the library probably had the biggest influence. I have a huge respect for librarians and the work they do. It’s so easy for information to be distorted, and so important that true accounts are preserved. This became a major theme in Magical North. When you’re faced with so many different stories about the same events, how do you decide which version is true?

3. What’s the best thing about writing about pirates?

The sword fights! Also the fact that pirates are rule-breakers and you’re never quite sure what they’ll do in any situation. They spend their lives at sea and, like the sea, they’re subject to change without notice.

4. Your stories are about a wonderful magical world, where did you find the inspiration for it?

Thank you! These were the worlds I loved as a child – fantastical tales of heroes and monsters. When I wrote ‘The Voyage to Magical North’ my head was full of the stories of Sinbad; Jason and the Argonauts; old movies such as The Crimson Pirate. I set out to recreate those stories but to give them a modern twist.

5. There’s plenty of magic in your books, what does magic mean to you and how do you use that for your stories?

In the world of Magical North, magic is a naturally-occurring creative energy. Too much magic and the world becomes weird, too little and things start to stagnate. I guess I do have a sense that we all need a little chaos in our lives to keep things interesting!

I think of magic as the possibility of bigger and better things, the sense that there is more to the world than meets the eye. Magic means going beyond the obvious. We all have the ability to create and experiment and invent, and so in that sense we’re all magicians.

6. You write about good and evil, but nobody in your stories is truly evil or completely good, what’s your view on this much written about and always interesting subject?

Such an interesting question! I recently heard someone say that evil is essentially selfishness and I think that’s a fair definition. An ‘evil’ person furthers their own interests, even when it hurts other people. A ‘good’ person lays down their life for their friends. We’re all capable of doing both, often at the same time.

Early on in my book, for example, the supposedly heroic Cassie O’Pia does something pretty despicable. But later on we find out she actually had good motives. Does this mean what she did was ok? I find these grey areas very interesting.

7. What do you like most about dragons and what’s your favourite kind of monsters?

Dragons: where do I start? They can fly. They can breathe fire. They are simultaneously dangerous and fascinating. I love that fact that dragons traditionally have a single vulnerable spot. It suggests that every threat can be defeated if you know where to aim.

My favourite monster is a real one: the giant squid. Squid are the most beautiful, amazing creatures and we know so little about them.

8. If you’d be a pirate, what would your main characteristic be?

I would be the enthusiastic but incompetent pirate, rushing into battle then tripping over my own feet. That’s why I invented Cassie O’Pia – she’s the pirate I’d like to be.

9. Your main characters are constantly conquering their fears, what’s the best way to handle a tricky or scary situation?

It really depends on what the situation is. Sometimes it helps to dive in and try something anyway. I learned to ski this way – if I’d waited until I wasn’t afraid I’d never have made it down my first slope! Or, sometimes, I think ‘what’s the worst thing that could happen’ and I make that worst thing so ridiculously bad that I laugh at it.

But sometimes, a situation can be so tricky that you can’t deal with it on your own in which case you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. Knowing when to get help is a great skill.

10. What do you like the most about writing fantasy?

There are no rules. Or, there are rules, but only ones that you make up yourself. A fantasy world can have magic, man-eating birds, an island of librarians, anything you like, but once you start setting rules, they have to be consistent, which can be quite a challenge.

11. What are your plans for the future?

The second pirate book, Journey to Dragon Island, is now out.

My third book is set in a completely different world: Victorian Britain with magic. Details of the UK edition have just been released

I’ve also just started work on a new, standalone book, set in modern Wales (with magic, naturally). It will be published in the UK in 2019. Very exciting!


One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a signed paperback copy of The Voyage to Magical North.

The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.


  1. I'm a big fan of dragons, pirates and magic. The Accidental Pirates series sounds like a must-read.

  2. Oh, these sound fantastical. I love magic and dragons and tales of adventure. I would love to read these.

  3. This sounds like a really interesting and exciting book, looking forward to reading it.

  4. Your books look so cool, and I love the activities on your website too - think my daughter might like them!

  5. Sounds like a very entertaining read to me and thanks for the giveaway :-)

  6. It sounds like an awesome adventure.

  7. Thanks for the giveaway!


  8. I love dragons, anything to do with dragons

  9. I have a real enjoyment of fantasy novels, especially those with mythical creatures like dragons!

  10. Love to read this.
    Great advice - dive in and try it
    Its only ever new the first time !!!

  11. This would be so awesome for me and my daughter. Thank you for posting.

  12. this sounds great, id love to read it

  13. Thanks for the great book prize and competition. Good luck everyone!

  14. No rules. That's one of the things I like about reading fantasy. You never know what you're going to get.

  15. Sounds like a fun fantasy adventure! And there are pirates!