Spooky Season continues today with a guest blog from Alex Bell, author of The Train of Dark Wonders, an exciting and spooky story!
One of the things I enjoyed most about books when I was a child was the tightknit friendships you often found between the main characters. Not only did they go on incredible adventures together, but they were also like family who would do anything to help and look after one another. They had strong, supportive relationships where they could flourish and be themselves, rather than worrying about how they appeared or might be judged. This was something I was keen to replicate in The Train of Dark Wonders with my four main characters.
My protagonist, Bess, has always been something of a misfit due to her love of all things strange and spooky, from haunted dolls to aliens and Bigfoot. For her, it’s a dream come true to inherit her grandfather’s Odditorium – a peculiar museum full of bizarre artefacts, including whispering flowers, mechanical fortune tellers and an albino alligator. She’s always thought she was perfectly ordinary, but as the story progresses, she realises she might have a touch of fairytale magic of her own . . .
When Bess receives a ticket to the Train of Dark Wonders, she meets Beau, a talented puppeteer of most unusual puppets. His puppet magician can turn roses into paper and conjure paper staircases, whilst his puppet ninja mice can unlock any door and see off foes with their tiny swords. Not only that, but Beau moves so smoothly and silently in the shadows that there are rumours he ran away from ninja school himself.
Then there’s Maria, a fire witch with the ability to conjure up a lion made entirely from flames. She performs on the train with her parents as a fire acrobat and is aided in her magic by her animal familiar – a tiny, red dragon named Cedric. When not facing grave peril, her fire butterflies are particularly entrancing.
And lastly, there’s Louie, a gentle boy and talented violinist. He owns a pair of ghost violins – the white one plays music to draw in ghosts from the spirit world, whilst the black one has the power to exorcise evil spirts. Louie is normally a peaceful vegetarian, but he also happens to be a werewolf after being bitten on one of the train’s previous adventures.
The four children all have unique skills and interests, but they all share a love of adventure, new worlds and peculiar creatures. Together, they form their own little family on board the Train of Dark Wonders, where they love nothing more than seeing what fantastic new world the train will dive into next.
The Train of Dark Wonders is written by Alex Bell, illustrated by Beatriz Castro and published by Oneworld Publications.
Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Federation.