The Hatmakers by Tamzin Merchant (ARC Review)


Goodreads: The Hatmakers
Series: None (yet)
Source: ARC from publisher
Published: February 2021

Official Summary

Cordelia comes from a long line of magical milliners, who weave alchemy and enchantment into every hat. In Cordelia’s world, Making – crafting items such as hats, cloaks, watches, boots and gloves from magical ingredients – is a rare and ancient skill, and only a few special Maker families remain.

When Cordelia’s father Prospero and his ship, the Jolly Bonnet, are lost at sea during a mission to collect hat ingredients, Cordelia is determined to find him. But Uncle Tiberius and Aunt Ariadne have no time to help the littlest Hatmaker, for an ancient rivalry between the Maker families is threatening to surface. Worse, someone seems to be using Maker magic to start a war.

It’s up to Cordelia to find out who, and why . . .

Star Divider


The Hatmakers is pure middle-grade magic. Set in an alternate England where five guilds create powerful artifacts that can influence a person’s behavior or even the fate of the nation, The Hatmakers draws readers into a spellbinding story where magic and science are now at odds. For years, the skills of the Makers were high demand, but new advances have made their work seem silly (to some) or even downright dangerous. Now Cordelia, an apprentice Hatmaker, must fight to remind England of the importance of the Maker traditions.

Cordelia is a suitably spunky heroine, one who will immediately engage the sympathies of the readers as she sets out to find her (supposedly dead) father and to rescue the king of England from a dastardly plot meant to draw the nation into war with France. The adults in Cordelia’s life may love her, but they certainly do not trust her instincts, or her ability to fight the mysterious foe who has been stealing Maker items. This, however, only draws out Cordelia’s strengths, showing how devoted she is to her convictions and how willing she is to trust in herself when no one else will. Readers will cheer her own as she repeatedly rushes into danger, always with the good of others foremost in her mind.

Cordelia’s world is also gripping. The concept of guilds who create magical articles that can change a person, making them more outgoing, loving, intelligent, etc. feels very original and is used to great effect. At times, Maker items are used for Very Important business, such as state negotiations. Other times, however, private individuals may ask for something simple, like a hat that will cure stage fright. The book shows with humor how such a request can easily go wrong, if the Hatmaker is not well-versed in their craft! This magic system, combined with a historical (fantasy) setting makes the book an engaging read.

The Hatmakers is an enchanting, whimsical tale sure to delight fans of middle-grade fantasy. Its original premise, richly-drawn world, and sympathetic protagonist make it a sure win for readers of all ages. The only trouble with the book? It needs a sequel right away!

5 stars

7 thoughts on “The Hatmakers by Tamzin Merchant (ARC Review)

  1. Louise says:

    Oh, thank you for sharing this one! It sounds like the sort of book that I would really love so I have added it to my list ♥


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