The Ten Riddles of Eartha Quicksmith


By Loris Owen
Published 10th September 2020 | ISBN 9781913102319

Welcome to the dazzling new world of Quicksmiths, where you will encounter Strange Energy, the Mowl, Wormholes, Dark Forces and the tantalising riddle of the Ark of Ideas. When Kip Bramley receives a cryptic invitation, delivered by a beetle shaped drone which appears to be breathing, his world will change forever. Soon he finds himself chasing riddles and solving puzzles on a crazy treasure hunt set 400 years earlier by a mysterious genius. As things get dangerous, it seems much more is at stake for Kip and his family than winning top marks at his strange new school…

Let your adventure begin:

Praise for the book

‘A mind-blowing, puzzle-packed, epic adventure!’ Kieran Larwood, Author of The Five Realms series 

‘An incredibly inventive, fabulously funny book stuffed with likeable characters and a plot that will keep you guessing until the very last page. One of the best children’s fantasy books I’ve read so far this year. Do not miss it!’ Dan Walker, Author of The Light Hunters

‘Inventive first fantasy novel,’ The Observer Best Children’s Books of the Month

‘It’s exciting, it’s funny, and it’s very clever … an absolute wonder and a joy.’ @notsotweets / BookWormHole

‘A fast-paced adventure imbued with the true magic of science and all the limitless possibilities of the world. You can’t help but read this and imagine that anything is possible and there’s still so much of the world to discover … There are wormholes and timeslips and thoughtwaves and slipstreams and so much more!’ Gavin Hetherington, bookseller and booktuber

‘This is undoubtably an amazing story of strange happenings and adventure, skilfully interwoven with messages of friendship and resilience. A fantastic read for anyone young or old, and an ideal choice for whole class reading.’ Sam Phillips, @ReadingZone 

5 reviews for The Ten Riddles of Eartha Quicksmith

  1. Cian

    I first read this book about 2 years ago and coming back to it I’ve realised it hasn’t lost its charm and likability in the slightest, it’s one of those rare books that you can’t seem to put down and can come back to with enthusiasm even if you know exactly what’s going to happen. It’s a very unique book that has its own name and individual people that stick with you. And when you read the book itself you feel like you’re in the shoes of the characters, as if you’re solving the riddles right next to Kip. This book keeps you in the dark just enough to surprise and pull you into it’s story, as well as teaching you a thing or two along the way.I can see it standing next to books like Alex Rider and even Harry Potter.I’d definitely read it again.

  2. Liam

    I got the chance to read this in order to get my feedback as a father of two. I found the story warm and exciting, full of triumph over adversity and some surprisingly touching moments of friendship and pathos. There’s a theme of closeness, within friendships and within family – which set me up for then admiring how villainous the bad guys are.
    No matter what school was like for you, every chapter has several moments that imagine how awesome it COULD be – that make you wish you’d had these teachers and these friends. Here in a community of truly global diversity, adults are free to be child-like in their excitement and their instinct to constantly see the world anew, and children are free to be respected as thinkers and doers.
    The team of two girls, two boys has a balanced structure that builds nicely and which sets it apart from similar works. I was drawn into how they banter and what they choose to do for each other – as if they’d be fun to follow playing scrabble in quarantine, let alone having fantasy adventures. Each character feels complete, and our initially lonely hero is convincing in his inner thoughts.
    The fantasy elements are perfectly entwined with individual characters to develop their personalities in each new challenge. Familiar ideas like wormholes and drones are made fresh and fun, and a host of original inventions and scenarios mesh seamlessly into a well-thought out world.
    The riddles themselves are honed to the target age group, and the reader is always caught up in the moment as our heroes work through them. The plot is never let down by those silly or predictable moments that are politely ignored in other books, the bits that make adults say to each other “It’s only for children, it doesn’t matter”.
    I can’t wait for the next one.

  3. Tracy Curran

    In my humble opinion, Firefly Press have turned out some of the best middle-grade books of 2020. So, when I got the opportunity to review The Ten Riddles of Eartha Quicksmith via Netgalley, I jumped at the chance.

    How glad I am that I did. This is everything that I would have wanted in a book as a young reader; mystery, adventure and…puzzles!

    When squirl-drawing Pip Bramley is sent a cryptic invitation by a beetle drone, he doesn’t realise that he’ll soon be embarking on a new life at Quicksmiths School of Strange Energies. Soon, he and his new friends are embroiled in a race against time to solve the ten riddles of the legendary Eartha Quicksmith in order to locate the long hidden ‘Ark of Ideas’. Pip desperately hopes that it may be the key to healing his mum. But there are others determined to beat him too it.

    Riddles may be hard to solve but they must be even harder to write and set-up. Loris Owen does an amazing job of keeping the characters and the readers on their toes with brilliantly seeded puzzles that are challenging, clever and unbelievably imaginative. The plot is pacey and completely immersive and I love how this book takes so many middle-grade classics -boarding school, friendship, long-hidden secrets- and turns them on their head to give a fresh, original feel. The boarding school teaches pupils about ‘Strange Energies’ – science not magic (although there is a definite magical quality to the story), the four friends are all gifted and talented, and their clever inventions places the historical aspect of the story hand in hand with the future.

    Pip is a great protagonist; likeable, easy-going but with a strong motivation to soak up everything he learns at Quicksmiths. His partnership with the amusing Albert works brilliantly and Leela and Timmi, along with Mowl and Pinky, complete the group nicely. Pip’s past is sad, but in a slightly different way to those we have encountered in other MG stories, and his family history evokes a lot of emotion and investment in the story. Thag is the typical school bully, targeting Pip’s group at every turn, but there’s a good twist at the end.

    For me though, Eartha Quicksmith and her riddles are the star of the show here. The unravelling of the riddles is spectacular. With giant globes and secret studies, ominous clockwork knights and pirate ships shaped out of dust, it did remind me of the first Harry Potter book where the three main characters race to find the philosophers stone.

    There are a lot of awesome extras in this novel too, too numerous to mentions. Scaleface, the mysterious Prowler, doesn’t feature much in the story but enough to create just the right amount of fear. Then there are the Skimmis, the curious teachers, the wormholes…it’s just packed with excitement and imagination. I would have liked to read far more descriptions of the food, cooked by Chef Garibaldi, as what was mentioned sounded deliciously unusual.

    The set-up implies that there is probably more to come from this very talented author and welcome that with open arms. The standard of middle-grade this year has been astounding and this is right up there with the best.

    The Ten Riddles of Eartha Quicksmith is released on Spetember 10th 2020 and is available for pre-order. A big thanks to Firefly Press and Netgalley for giving me the chance to review.

  4. Dawn Thompson (verified owner)

    I loved this book! A real page turner. It is fast paced, with believable characters who show both vulnerability and the hint of extraordinary powers to be developed further. The puzzles, while leading the book along add another exciting dimension to it. What a wonderful imagination the author has! Both the characters and images of surroundings and magic are vivid and colourful. I hope there are many more books of Kip and Eartha Quicksmiths, until Kip can finally and truly help his beloved Mum. More! Give me more!

  5. Liam James

    I love this book. Right from the start I was gripped by its mysteries and its puzzles, and it just pulled me further in to this fantastical world. It’s exciting, it’s funny, and it’s very clever. It does the whole hidden world tucked away just out of sight in the real world thing really well. But unlike so many of these boarding school fantasy novels, The Ten Riddles of Eartha Quicksmith is based on science and not magic. It’s just not the kind of science you’d recognise! There are so many amazing theories and marvellous inventions floating around (often literally), it’s an absolute wonder and a joy. It feels like such an amazing place, and I enjoyed getting a glimpse of it. There’s a lovely set of friendships at the heart of it, with some of their ups and downs. The Glowflyer Gang is one of the best things about the book, and the bullies they face are genuinely nasty and sinister, giving a real sense of threat, and also making me cheer whenever someone stood up to them. The central mystery is wonderful too. I loved the quest for the riddles and the prize at the end of them, and they were so cleverly presented. The pacing is perfect, with the tension really building up to the climax of the story, and Kip’s past tragedies give it a real emotional poignancy. There’s wonderful use of language too. From the new inventions and sciences to the teacher, Professor Steampunk, who comes out with the most splendiferous words. It also has some incredibly imaginative and cute animal companions. This is definitely a series you want to get into now, at the start!

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