Tally Hamilton does not want to be sent off to a stuffy boarding school all because of the stupid war. But Delderton Hall is not just any school. Eccentric, crazy and inspiring, Delderton is the gateway to a wonderful adventure – led by the mysterious Matteo who speaks five languages and longs for his mountain home.
And on a school trip to the troubled kingdom of Bergania, Tally proves herself to be braver than she knew and discovers a deep and lasting friendship by the dragonfly pool…
I can honestly say that this is pretty much the best book that I have EVER read! I loved every single sentence from beginning to end. The characters were powerful and very believable. Tally was was as headstrong and determined as her Great-Grandmother, who used to remove and wash the socks of tramps on the London underground. But she was kind and loyal too, and made a great many very strong friendships. Karil, the prince, longed for freedom from his controlled and organised royal life and for love from his father. But he had given up on his hopes and resigned himself to his miserable life until he met Tally. Matteo was mysterious. No one knew where he had come from or when he would leave, but he proved himself to be fair, loving and strong.
However, it wasn’t just the characters which made the book so special. It was the incredible settings as well. Delderton Hall in the west country, with it’s ancient cedar tree, pet hut and biology classes which started at four in the morning. The people who fill the school were also very charming. Clemmy, the art teacher and best cook in the country, who used to be an artists model. And Magda, the German teacher, who struggled over the writing of her book, and the making of hot chocolate.
Then when they arrive in Bergainia, a tiny country in Europe, they are met with a whole new setting. The beautiful mountain peaks, the proud castle, but most of all, the peaceful and secretive dragonfly pool; the only place in Bergainia untouched by world war 2.
As the novel went on, the plot became more and more gripping. You followed their lives from from before the war, when their friendships are strong and they are all coming together in Bergainia to make a brave stand against Hitler. To the outbreak of the war, when a twist comes in the plot which you would never be able to see coming for a million years. To their lives during the war, when their deep friendship and love for one another sing out over the hardship of the war.
The ending is brilliant and sort of unexpected, but you also sort of knew that that was what had to happen.
I cannot tell you how much I loved this book. Sometimes I was smiling with the characters, sometimes I was mourning or sighing with them, sometimes I was laughing and by the end I was in tears. I would recommend this book to everyone. I think it is best suited to 9/10+ and I would recommend it to adults just as much as I would children. I also think that it will be enjoyed just as much by girls and boys. It carried a very strong and relevant message of friendship, and resilience during difficult times.
An absolutely stunning book.