The Hatmakers is even more delightful and beautiful than its cover--and I think that it's cover is spectacular.
The Hatmakers follows Cordelia, a young girl who is part of the legacy of the Hatmakers family. The story has two general plotlines, one overarching one in which Cordelia's father, Prospero, is reported lost at sea after a shipwreck, and the main plotline in which there is a potential war brewing that the Makers are all fighting with one another over to assist the queen and stop.
Now, the magic in this book is really fun. One way in which is manifesting is in how the various families Make items. For instance, the Hatmakers imbue their hats with a variety of unique and oftentimes hard to get items--such as moonbeams, storms, and feathers from rare birds--that, when worn, can give the wearer feels of peacefulness, happiness, excitement, you name it. I assume this is also how it works for the Bootmakers, Glovemakers, Cloakmakers, and so on. I loved learning about all of the different trades and their methods of Making various magical items, as well as some tidbits here and there about past events that the Makers have been a part of.
The characters, such as Cordelia, Sam, and Goose, were all so full of life and had the most vivid personalities. There's plenty of twists and some drama littered throughout, and I appreciated how well Merchant portrayed these elements through her characters' reactions and emotions. The only perspective we follow is Cordelia's, but I still appreciated how much effort Merchant went to in order to create well-developed characters, even more minor characters that only show up in a few scenes.
I had so much fun reading this book and it really captured that nostalgic magical feeling I used to get when reading books as a kid. The setting itself is really fun and has a historical Georgian London time period that combines a sense of real history (think 'alternate,' maybe) with some magical twists that made it feel so timeless and welcoming to me. It's an exceptionally immersive setting that I really loved diving into and hope to discover more of in future books.
Merchant's writing is stunning and vivid, written with a beautiful prose style that is both accessible and full of elegance and wit. Some of my favorite parts of Merchant's writing are her focus on detail and her wit, both of which seem to play hand in hand. Something that I am always drawn to in books is when an author includes very minor, quirky details or insights about a world that aren't necessarily necessary, but that for me serve to build up the world and create a more immersive experience, and this is something that I think Merchant captured really well. Similarly, in doing this she includes some strong wit in both her creative details and a bit a humor that acts as an undercurrent and really helps make this story flow even better than it already does.
Overall, I loved this middle grade fantasy and have given it five stars! If you enjoy middle grade fantasy or are simply looking for something fun, imaginative, and exciting, then you should definitely pick up The Hatmakers.
*I received a copy of The Hatmakers courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating.*