The Lost Child’s Quest by James Haddell

Publication Date:

The Blurb

Legends may be born from half-forgotten memory or half-understood experience, but they’re never made up out of thin air… and sometimes there’s more truth in legend than in fact.

Deposited on the doorstep of a children’s home as a baby, Tia’s only clues to her history are the strange items left with her: a luggage label with her name on, twelve engraved silver coins and a pendant inscribed with a mysterious symbol.

Her search for answers ignites with the arrival of a sinister stranger and a move to her new home at Stormhaven Castle, where unravelling mysteries of the past is part of everyday life.

The Review

Myth, magic and mystery are woven together to create a modern day legend, set on the stunning Cornish Coast.

Scooped out of her life at the care home, just in time to escape her unknown assailant, Tea finds herself immersed in a brand new family and community. We watch as she takes her first tentative steps to becoming a daughter, granddaughter and a sister, shedding off some of the fear that she has always worn as a cloak, while wondering what the peculiar objects left with her so many years before can tell her about who she is and where she came from.

I really enjoyed reading about the normality of the village life, and community events from church services to the skittles in the pub, and bonfire night on the cliff top. For just a little while, I could imagine myself in a world where people can come together and enjoy each other’s company.

Stormhaven Castle

With historians and archaeologists working at Stormhaven, historical fact is blended with The Thirteen Legendary Treasures Of Britain in a way that encourages curiosity and further research, preferably in the library described within Stormhaven Castle.

And, as fictional schools go, Stormhaven Castle School of Exploration and Discovery is right up there. I loved the sense of fun, freedom and nature within the day to day life, and the dawning realisation of just how much this very untraditional setting for their studies is actually teaching them.

With more tales to come, I’m looking forward to seeing which legends and treasures James picks next…

And now, I’m delighted to hand over to James to discuss the influences for The Lost Child’s Quest.

The Guest Post

I’ve not done any rigorous research on this, but something tells me that if you were to browse the shelves in the children’s fiction section of your local bookshop, every third book you pick up will probably feature a main character who has been orphaned. Factor in the stories where a character has lost, or been estranged from, at least one parent in some other way in their early years and the percentage would be even higher.

Children who have experienced early trauma feature prominently in children’s literature. These children make for immediately interesting characters and kindle instant empathy in the reader. My own bookshelves are stuffed with heroes and heroines who would qualify as ‘looked after children’ in the UK today. I don’t want to criticise these stories in any way – many of them are truly wonderful and I adore them. But as a parent of two adopted children, I often felt there was room for a deeper unpicking of some of the lived experiences of these children, whilst still telling an escapist story of magic and adventure.

So I decided to write a book that, if they ever read it, my own children would see themselves in: a story that didn’t skirt around their feelings of anxiety, fear and sense of being a lost child, but rather used those very real emotions to drive a tale that was threaded with fantasy.

I ended up not delving into this theme as deeply or as explicitly as I had intended. My wonderful editor did have to politely suggest more than once that Tia’s inner voice was a little too mature for a ten year old and I reluctantly edited out some material, such as the paragraph below, after eventually conceding that it probably belongs more in a blog post such as this than in a children’s novel:

For those who have grown up knowing the love of a nurturing parent it is impossible to fully appreciate the anxiety that can bind the body and mind of a child who was not shown the goodness of the world at an early age. Without that love, one is left to form an image of life as a series of strange threats that must be fought against or hidden from. The feeling had become so normal to Tia that she was completely unconscious of how fearful she felt almost all of the time.

But this is the heart of Tia’s story in The Lost Child’s Quest, and in the other Tales of Truth and Treasure that will follow. Any other themes were only allowed in if they served to enhance and explain my heroine’s search to understand and accept herself.

Historical exploration and treasure-hunting adventure provided a perfect foil for Tia’s search for answers. The postmodern attitude to the nature of truth became an increasingly prominent undertone to my writing as I realised how well this endorses the experience of those who have so many unanswerable questions about their early childhoods. And the idea of national heritage being quite a complicated thing, and all the richer for it, reflects the multifaceted background of adopted people beautifully.

I hope that many will love The Lost Child’s Quest (and the Tales of Truth and Treasure series that will follow in the coming years) for its history, mystery, magic and adventure. But I also hope that some will love it because it makes them feel that its ok to feel their confusing mixture of feelings, and that they can find themselves even though they may not be able to find all the answers they are looking for.

About The Author

James has always loved stories and adventure. He spent most of his childhood in Kent reading and daydreaming then went to university in Durham. Four months volunteering for a Thai charity for children with disabilities in Bangkok after university changed everything.

He trained as a Primary school teacher, working in schools in London, before getting married and moving back to Thailand for seven years. After adopting two children and beginning writing The Tales of Truth Treasure, he returned to the UK and worked in Primary school and nursery setting as a teacher and Special Educational Needs and Disability Co-Ordinator.

James now lives in Somerset with his wife and three children, where he spends his time writing, teaching and being a dad and husband… though he still finds time to do a little reading and daydreaming now and then.

Thank you so much to James for a really insightful guest post, and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Do make sure you check out all of the other stops. You can find out more about The Tales Of Truth And Treasure, including how to preorder a signed copy at truthandtreasure.com

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