Oh this is so much fun!! It’s like The Goonies meets Indiana Jones meets Tomb-raider with a game like narrative levelling up and boss levels at different points to reflect the inspiration which is an actual game Knights & Bikes by Foam Sword Games.
Totally recommend this and I’m only sad upon finishing that was too late to immediately call my local bookshop to order in the sequel!
9 (and 5 months it’s important!!) year old Demelza lives in a caravan with her pet goose Honkers (That’s Captain Honkers to you)outside the family home since her mum fell off the cliffs beside their caravan park on the island of Penfurzy.
One night the mysterious Nessa wanders into her caravan and a friendship and adventures begins involving a legend of Knights and cursed treasure, a runaway digger, a three headed dog and electromagnets and a Neon 80s bike makeover!
This has me smiling throughout it is such a fantastic book with amazing indomitable dauntless girls who are funny and silly and full of life even if they have struggles and pain.
Demelza is brash and a storyteller full of gumption and enthusiasm yet struggling with the death of her mother.
Nessa is mysterious and yearning, with tall tales and effortless cool yet is definitely hiding something with her singular moniker.
The game-like tasks and immersed environment have delicious references of 80s nostalgia and culture from references to Prince, The Velvet Underground & Nico, Rocky III, and indirect hints of The Goonies, HE-Man and Raiders Of The Lost Ark which is such fun to read aloud for those whose childhoods may have featured these things (whether actually at the time or thanks to Sunday afternoon telly in the 1990s) but also for children to get a sense of the cultural history of the tangible past not just the trudge of dates and leaders.
I also love the Cornish feel of the settings in names such as Demelza, Sir Bodmin, Bude, Launcester and more and then vocabulary such as Tor and even food (Stargazy pie & pasties!!) which is inspired by artist & programmer’s Rex Crowle’s concept for the real game reflecting his childhood in Cornwall, but not the dreamy mythical landscape of romance novels, a grittier worn-down realism.
Demelza began to whack at what she thought was its head. ‘Die, creature of the night!!’ She yelled as the foam sword flailed. ‘Begone! Back to the put from whence you came!’
Overall, I loved this thoroughly and will definitely be reading Knights and Bikes Rebel Bicycle Club!! Knights Of continues to impress with outstanding creativity alongside embracing diversity and inclusion.
I can’t wait for Littlefae to read books like this, she’s very interested and read the first chapter but she needs a bit more stamina yet for the whole thing.
Knights and Bikes by Gabrielle Kent illustrated by Rex Crowle and Luke Newell is published by Knights Of.