Book Review: The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D. Lapinski

“She wasn’t a grown up person by nature. She’d had to become one. And until she walked into Strangeworlds, she hadn’t even realised that she had been so busy trying to be responsible that she’d forgotten how to have fun.


Click herefor details of the book on Goodreads.

I was beyond excited when I was approved on Netgalley for a proof copy of The Strangeworlds Travel Agency. It has been one of my most anticipated books since the moment L.D. first announced they were writing a children’s book. It opens with the line: “There have always been places in our world where magic gathers”, and this book is one of those places.

It tells the story of Jonathan and Felicity (Flick) and their adventures into other worlds through the Travel Agency suitcases. I absolutely loved the idea of a quiet, unassuming little shop filled with suitcases to take you to magical worlds. Bonus points for Jonathan’s recording books and all the rules included about travelling to other worlds, because I love rules and records. Sign me up and take me there immediately.

I adored the two main characters in this book. Jonathan is witty and delightfully snarky, and I am all here for his attitude. He appears very serious at first, but it soon becomes apparent that he is dealing with an awful lot of responsibility at the Agency, as well as some personal issues. Responsibility is a big theme in this book. Felicity (Flick) also has a lot of responsibility, having to look after her younger brother. She is resentful of this aspect of her life, and as the oldest of four children, I really identified with a lot of Flick’s feelings around having to care for her younger sibling. I could really see how having magic made her feel special and unique, and how the suitcases swallowed her whole with promises of adventures to worlds that were just for her and not something she had to share with her family. Underneath all the heaviness she feels from having to do so many grown up things, Flick has a real sense of adventure, and Strangeworlds speaks to this. She hesitates only briefly before diving headfirst into Jonathan’s world and all that that entails, and I admired her bravery.

L.D.’s world building is immense and brilliant. Their descriptions are so unique and unusual, and they bring the magic of the worlds to life and really stick in your head long after you’ve closed the last page. Each different suitcase world is so unique, so unlike anything I have ever seen or read about before, but still made me feel like I had travelled the worlds with Flick and shared in her wonder and amazement. I highlighted so many things whilst reading this book, just because the writing is so gorgeous.

The Crystal Forest was my favourite world, I think. I’ll be honest I kept changing my mind as I read. But, a world made of crystals with geode butterflies? What could be more perfect? L.D. comments a lot on caring for the world and how you cannot take things from these worlds and expect that world to continue to thrive. This is, for me, one of the key messages of the book and it is really well written in a fun way that I think young readers will appreciate. After reading, I know that it would be so very wrong to take one of those butterflies, but my gods do I wish I had one in my life.

There is so much to love about this book, that I could talk about it all day. There is a really great mystery at the centre of the book that’s a little bit dark and dangerous and adds a real edge and thrill to the book. There were times when I genuinely worried about the safety of our two main characters, and moments that had me on the edge of my seat, frustrated that my eyes couldn’t read any faster. I was thankful for a long train ride that meant I didn’t have to put this book down.

The Strangeworlds Travel Agency is a truly magical middle grade read. It has everything that I could ever want from a book, and I cannot wait to get hold of a finished copy to share with my little one, because I know he’s going to love it. Also, is it time for book two yet?

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