Set in 1920s Paris this bookish tale is a delight.
Bastien Bonlivre, the son of well-known French writers, has been shipped off to an orphanage after his parent’s death in suspicious circumstances. All he has left to remember them by is a notebook which he has been entrusted to keep safe by his father.
The orphanage is a miserable place run by Xavier Odieux who takes particular pleasure in tormenting Bastien. Bastien has a talent for storytelling and is soon in demand by the boys in the orphanage to tell them stories about themselves. This enrages Xavier further as he does his best to squash any imagination or creative thought.
But it is not until several other well-known authors begin to go missing that Bastien realises that there might be a connection to the death of his parents. And why is Xavier so interested in finding Bastien’s precious notebook? When the notebook is stolen Bastien enlists the help of his friend Alice from the bookshop Le Chat Curieux, and along with his orphanage friends Theo and Sami they embark on a madcap race against time across Paris and down the catacombs to retrieve the notebook and find the missing writers. The children soon find themselves in a plot far worse than anything they could have imagined.
Although this adventure treads familiar ground there is plenty here to satisfy the curious reader with a fast-paced plot, heart-stopping danger, plus colourful characters, and dastardly villains aplenty. Along the way the children’s bravery is tested to the full and their friendship strengthened. At the core this is a brilliant novel about how stories shape and enrich the lives of all who encounter them.