Today I’m reviewing The Pawnshop of Stolen Dreams by Victoria Williamson as part of the Ultimate Blog Tour hosted by The Write Reads! Thank you for providing me with a copy of this book and the materials for this tour. All thoughts and opinions about the book are my own.
In a strange little village called Witchetty Hollow, eleven-year-old Florizel is the first to run into the curious visitors who’ve come to open a brand new Daydream Delicatessen and sack-baby factory.
At first, it seems the daydream confection and cheap sack children are the best things that could have happened to the poor folk of the Hollow – after all, who has the money to rent their child from Storkhouse Services these days? But after a few weeks, Florizel starts to notice something odd happening to the adults of the town. First, they seem dreamy, then they lose all interest in their jobs and families. Soon they’re trading all their worldly goods in the newly-opened Pawnshop for money to buy daydreams. With no money for rent payments, the children of Witchetty Hollow are being reclaimed by Storkhouse Services at an alarming rate. Florizel needs to act.
A magical tale of intrigue and adventure from award-winning children’s author Victoria Williamson.
I want to start off by saying that I thought this book was fantastic. It was eerie, it was suspenseful, and it had some excellent main characters. It was the kind of book that was difficult to put down because I just had to know what happened next.
My favourite thing about this book was how eerie it was. The town of Witchetty Hollow has a bit of a spooky and almost dystopian feel to it. Real children are rented to families, the language and phrases they use are just a little bit off, and mysterious things start to happen after the Gobbelino family shows up. As the story progresses, things get even more eerie, with goblin-like creatures, children being taken away, and villagers going missing. I enjoyed the suspense of waiting to see what would happen next and watching the main character try to piece everything together. The eeriness and the mysteriousness of this book reminded me of a Neil Gaiman book or Malamander by Thomas Taylor.
I absolutely adored the main character in this book. Florizel was so incredibly brave, clever, and observant. I loved that she did the right thing, even if it wasn’t easy, like purposely doing poorly in school to keep her rent down and being kind to Burble, the sack-boy who doesn’t want to be recycled. I also loved Burble and his enthusiasm. I loved that he had such big dreams and that he was determined to not be recycled.
I liked the found family aspect to this book. Found family is one of my favourite tropes in general and this book was full of it. There are all of the different ways that the families are formed. I especially liked Florizel’s family with her grammer and Burble.
Even though this story takes place in an imaginary and fairy tale world, I could see lots of parallels and commentary about the real world in the story. I like it when middle-grade books have allegories to real world problems and lots of layers to peel back and reflect on.
The only downside to this book was at times, it felt a bit rushed. It’s a relatively short book and there’s a lot packed into it. I think the book could have been slightly longer, but I’m also impressed with how much world building was fit into this story.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I will definitely be checking out some of the author’s other books.
Victoria Williamson grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, and has worked as an educator in a number of different countries, including as an English teacher in China, a secondary science teacher in Cameroon, and a teacher trainer in Malawi.
As well as degrees in Physics and Mandarin Chinese, she has completed a Masters degree in Special Needs in Education. In the UK she works as a primary school special needs teacher, working with children with a range of additional support needs including Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, physical disabilities and behavioural problems.
She is currently working as a full time writer of Middle Grade and YA contemporary fiction, science fiction and fantasy, with a focus on creating diverse characters reflecting the many cultural backgrounds and special needs of the children she has worked with, and building inclusive worlds where all children can see a reflection of themselves in heroic roles.
Victoria’s experiences teaching young children in a school with many families seeking asylum inspired her debut novel, The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle, an uplifting tale of redemption and unlikely friendship between Glaswegian bully Caylin and Syrian refugee Reema.
Twenty percent of her author royalties for The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle are donated to the Scottish Refugee Council.
You can find out more about Victoria’s books, school visits and upcoming events on her website: www.strangelymagical.com