Book Review: The Hatmakers by Tamzin Merchant

Title: The Hatmakers

Author: Tamzin Merchant

Illustrator: Paola Escobar

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Genre: Fantasy

Age Group: Middle Grade

Content/Trigger Warnings: Violence, blood, imprisonment, death of a parent

Rating: ★★★★

Book Links: Bookshop::TBD::B&N::Amazon::

Goodreads Synopsis

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 . . .

Featuring illustrations by Paola Escobar.

The Hatmakers was the first choice for the Middle Grade Marvels group and I’m so glad that I decided to join in with reading it! My love for middle grade continues to grow as I read more and as my son gets to the age where these are the kind of books he will be reading. In fact, he kept asking me about my copy of this book and I promised I would let him read it after I was done, haha. I’m happy to encourage him because this book was absolutely magical!

This book follows young Cordelia Hatmaker, the youngest in a family of magical Makers who make and sell special hats. These hats can make you braver, help you be more loquacious, or simple calm your nerves, all depending on what fabulous ingredients the Makers include. But Cordelia is too young to join in on the family business just yet, so she spends her days dreaming of adventuring with her father, who goes to exotic places to hunt down the rarest hatmaking ingredients. One day, however, tragedy strikes and this kicks of a series of events that with change Cordelia’s life forever.

This was such a beautiful, whimsical, and fun middle grade read! I expect a lot of whimsy when I go into a middle grade book, but this one delivered in spades. The magic behind the Making of clothes, be it hats, boots, or gloves, was fascinating and captured my imagination immediately. I loved how it’s built into this world that also has actual historical figures, like King George. It made for an incredibly enjoyable read that sucked me in quickly and had me gobbling up the pages!

The characters in this story were also easy to love. I instantly felt a connection with Cordelia, a girl who refuses to accept things at face value and uses her wit to get her out of (and sometimes into…) sticky situations. She was an incredible main character, with a lot of heart and pluck. I loved her friendship with Goose and Sam, two more characters that shone on the pages, and I was invested in their escapades throughout.

Overall, this was an adventurous, magical romp that I fell in love with quickly! The characters glow on the page and the world is wonderful whimsical. The magic and worldbuilding are fun and the action and pacing keep you invested in the story from page one until you close the book. I loved this so much and I can’t wait to continue this series!


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