Review: The Train to Impossible Places by P.G. Bell

Train Impossible Places

Jump aboard the Impossible Postal Service’s rather unusual train for a rip-roaring journey around the five corners of the Union of Impossible Places on a quest to save the Union from a would-be dictator!

The story begins dramatically when Suzy is awoken by strange metallic sounds, creeps downstairs to find railway lines under construction in her hallway and almost becomes “ the worst  type of incident it’s possible to be” on the aforementioned lines!

Her adventure with Fletch the engineer, J.F. Stonker the driver of the Impossible Postal Express, Wilmot the Postmaster and Ursel the bleached-blonde, brown bear, departs from here. Realising that somehow Suzy has avoided the remote enchantment that was supposed to keep her asleep while the steam train took a shortcut through her home, the trolls have no choice but to allow her to join their late-running train!

Suzy, we are informed very early in the book, loves physics, so the meta-dimensional engineering that Fletch has performed on her hallway to accommodate a huge steam locomotive is fascinating to her, although she does not appreciate his description of “fuzzics” – in her mind physics cannot be fuzzy. She has more surprises in store when she learns that gravity is one of “the more gullible forces” and can be tricked by ingenious troll-engineering to allow the Impossible Postal Express to perform some amazing manoeuvres on its mission to deliver post to any corner of the Union!

It is apparent that Wilmot is extremely nervous about the fact that his first delivery is running late, unfortunately the recipient is the unforgiving Lady Crepuscula in the ominously-named Obsidian Tower. When Wilmot appoints Suzy to be his deputy in order to avoid delivering the parcel himself, and she does not follow his orders to the letter, a frantic chase across the Union ensues. Suzy has learned of a plot that imperils all of The Impossible Places; can the combination of her problem-solving skills and the unstoppable Troll Post outwit the dastardly scheme?

I’m trying hard not to give away the plot, but this action-packed story will introduce you to the wonders of Trollville, Neuroglobes, fusion bananas, the incredible Hazardous Environment Carriage, some ghostly, storytelling explorers, and an unusual spy service controlled by the Curator of the Ivory Tower, Lord Meridian.

The world-building in this book is stunning, the cast of characters are absolutely fantastic and the plot is so brilliantly constructed that it could be the work of the fabulously inventive trolls. Underneath the thrilling machinations of the story there is an array of interesting scientific ideas and a reflection on the control and abuse of information. I adored the central character, Suzy Smith, with her courage, enquiring mind and love of physics and think that P.G. Bell has written a classic fantasy adventure, which is beautifully illustrated by Flavia Sorrentino. I simply cannot wait for the next book in the series to be published.

If you  enjoy The Train to Impossible Places as Much as I did, you may also want to try Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth by Frank Cottrell Boyce; The Cogheart Series by Peter Bunzl and The Cosmic Atlas of Alfie Fleet by Martin Howard.

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