Goodreads: The Train to Impossible Places: A Cursed Delivery
Series: not yet announced but likely The Train to Impossible Places #1
Published: October 2, 2018
A nonstop middle-grade fantasy adventure, The Train to Impossible Places by debut author P. G. Bell is as fun as it is full of heart, and the first book of a planned trilogy.
A train that travels through impossible places. A boy trapped in a snow globe. And a girl who’s about to go on the adventure of a lifetime.
The Impossible Postal Express is no ordinary train. It’s a troll-operated delivery service that runs everywhere from ocean-bottom shipwrecks, to Trollville, to space.
But when this impossible train comes roaring through Suzy’s living room, her world turns upside down. After sneaking on board, Suzy suddenly finds herself Deputy Post Master aboard the train, and faced with her first delivery―to the evil Lady Crepuscula.
Then, the package itself begs Suzy not to deliver him. A talking snow globe, Frederick has information Crepuscula could use to take over the entire Union of Impossible Places. But when protecting Frederick means putting her friends in danger, Suzy has to make a difficult choice―with the fate of the entire Union at stake.
The Train to Impossible Places is one of those fabulous middle grade fantasies that combines a creative setting with an action-packed plot and beguiling characters. From start to finish, it’s exactly the type of imaginative adventure I would have loved to read as a child, and one which I enjoyed today as an adult.
The premise is exciting: a magical train stops in Suzy’s living room; she hops on, becomes a deputized postal worker, and travels to a variety of magical places. She might even have a chance to save the world! However, I complain a lot about “good premise but bad execution” on the blog, so the truly important point here is that this exciting adventure is well-paced and well-written. I read the book in a day because I just couldn’t wait to find out what magical place the train would go next or what would happen next in the plot.
The characters are also well-written because there’s a variety of them, and they are all multi-faceted. Suzy’s boss is an eager young troll who wants to follow in his grandfather’s and father’s footsteps and deliver the mail properly, and it’s easy to like him, but some of the characters are pompous or downright curmudgeonly, and it can take a while to see their good qualities and warm up to them. Suzy herself is a bit of a gray character simply because she knows she’s doing things that might be a bit wrong but thinks doing them will serve her ultimate purposes for good.
Among all this are themes of industrialization vs. craftsmanship, proper use of knowledge, proper use of power, reasons for doing the right thing, and a few other questions that are delightfully important and complex. The exploration of these themes help turn the book from just a fun story into one worth discussing and remembering.
If you love fantasy, trains, good stories, or just good middle grade, check out The Cursed Delivery.