Mo, Lottie and the Junkers
Updated: Mar 13, 2020
Her Majesty, Queen Jennifer Killick
Confession: I hadn’t read this before reviewing it for Snort! As Julia Roberts might say: big mistake. Huge. Mo, Lottie and the Junkers is proper fabulous. If I’d have known how great it was before reviewing Alex Sparrow a few days ago I’d have kept some gush in reserve. Now, I find myself having to dig deep to find hidden pockets.
I should have expected it, of course. Jennifer Killick is a great writer and she’s in fine, confident form here. Mo, Lottie and the Junkers is a page-turner with all the Killick hallmarks. I stand by my Jane Austen remark from the last review. Like Austen, Killick draws clear, distinctive characters with lightness, wit and skill. Bright, self-confident, hair-obsessed Lottie and geeky, hashtagsensitive Mo (as well as little sister Sadie) steal the show. Like Alex and Jess, they have a relationship good enough to eat. These two fill holes in each other’s lives and personalities and it’s a joy to watch the dynamic unfold. Their dialogue and brilliant moments to camera make the difference between a highly readable MG thriller and a unique comedy classic.
Children’s funny books have a long history of flirting with darkness, and Her Maj also pushes boundaries here to take Mo and Lottie to unexpectedly spine-tingling places.
In case anyone reading this hasn’t yet read it I won’t give too much away, but there are whiffs of Terminator and Michael Marshall Smith’s Spares (if anyone remembers that). That said, the Junkers are very original time-travellers with nefarious – genuinely scary – plans and their eyes on manipulating the future. This spells bad news for Mo and Lottie. Including reveals I never saw coming, hidden clues and moments of Hitchcock tension, Killick switches from scary to funny to touching to intriguing on the head of a pin, with a skilful lightness of touch, weaving a story that never stops surprising and is fully satisfying.
I could go on all day about how much I enjoyed this book. There are so many deft strokes: Sadie’s own language (Cattish) is genius, Mo’s mum’s story – told in spare asides – is heart-breaking, Jax – but no: spoilers. Enough to say that I fell in love with Jennifer Killick’s style all over again. People often talk about how we’re seeing a golden age in children’s literature. I imagine they have in mind books like Mo, Lottie and the Junkers. Highly recommended for any children who enjoy funny, creepy, sci-fi, heart-string-tugging, stories … pretty much all of them, in fact.
Publisher: Firefly Press
Full disclosure: Bought this meself so you are guaranteed I'm definitely not trying to butter anyone up. It's a genuine gush-fest.