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The Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers ARC {4.5 Stars}

The Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers clearly promises a silly and fun middle grade adventure from that cover. I was impressed, however, with how compelling this fantasy story ended up being beyond just a light read. You will never look at penguins the same way again.

Note: I received an advanced copy of The Voyage to Magical North from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

The Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers ARC {4.5 Stars}

The Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on July 5th, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, MG
Page Length: 320 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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Twelve-year-old Brine Seaborne is a girl with a past--if only she could remember what it is. Found alone in a rowboat as a child, clutching a shard of the rare starshell needed for spell-casting, she's spent the past years keeping house for an irritable magician and his obnoxious apprentice, Peter.

When Brine and Peter get themselves into a load of trouble and flee, they blunder into the path of the legendary pirate ship theOnion. Before you can say "pieces of eight," they're up to their necks in the pirates' quest to find Magical North, a place so shrouded in secrets and myth that most people don't even think it exists. If Brine is lucky, she may find out who her parents are. And if she's unlucky, everyone on the ship will be eaten by sea monsters. It could really go either way.

4.5 Stars


  • There are pirates! There is a female pirate captain in fact! I really can never say no to pirates in a middle grade adventure since they are really the ideal adults to have along. I was delighted to find out that the dreaded captain of the Onion is none other than Cassie O’peia ;-).
  • The magic is surprisingly intricate for middle grade. It works by using a special substance that is able to absorb and release magic and then you have to use symbols drawn in the air to direct that magic. There is even more to it yet, but I’ll leave that for you to discover!
  • A lot of moments in this book are silly, but never to the point of losing that sense of tension and adventure. I found myself completely engrossed and wondering what the answer to the mystery was even as I was chuckling at more silly jokes about The Onion.
  • There are some pretty darn scary penguins that can use mind control. I will never look at penguins the same way again. Really though, that is just one example of how inventive this book is, strange things I’ve never encountered before despite my heavy reading of fantasy.
  • I love a villain who clearly thinks they are doing the right thing. Something that really makes Voyage to Magical North stand out is that we get to hear straight from the villain his side of the story and it all sounds shockingly reasonable when he explains his actions. Great lesson for kids that there are multiple sides to every story.
  • The heroine is a person of color! She’s specifically described as having dark skin and curly hair and I love seeing heroines that show that anyone can save the day.


  • Despite the middle grade tone, there are some seriously scary moments and some secondary characters do die. It seemed a little more intense than I was expecting for a middle grade.


The Voyage to Magical North is a wonderful adventure with pirates and killer penguins and so much more. I loved every page and thoroughly recommend it for any reader that enjoys middle grade but can handle some death.

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
– Anya


 The Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers

© 2016, Anya. All rights reserved.


  1. Evil penguins? I knew those waiters in Mary Poppins were up to no good! Great review, Anya!
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