A gap in the fabric between our world and the world of Aurobon has been opened and through it schoolboy Sam Palmer is snatched from the English country lane where he has been riding his bike to be thrust into a high security prison in the warring Aurobon state of Vermia. Such Pullmanesque parallel worlds are hard to avoid these days but as Voake develops his plot, his use of insects both as the potential carriers of germ warfare from Aurobon to the Earth and, in giant size, as planes is both original and convincingly contrived. Sam soon meets up with Springer, a daring girl pilot, and between them evil is defeated with many narrow escapes and much technical wizardry at the controls of their various insects.
There are moments in the book which resonate with current concerns in our real world – as when, for example, Sam observes the cruel treatment of his fellow prisoners by their guards or when the evil leader of Vermia threatens the people of the Earth with biological warfare. An ecological strand points to the way greed has led to the plundering and poisoning of the Earth. Alongside such serious themes there are, sometimes rather jarringly, scenes of slapstick humour. While Voake has still to find a consistent voice, this lively fantasy tale with its cliff-hanger moments is a first novel that will be much enjoyed by younger readers.