Tamzin Merchant: The Hatmakers (Puffin in Penguin Ramdom House 2021)
Tamzin Merchant already lived in Australia, South Africa and Dubai before moving to the UK. She has been working as an actor since the age of 17 and has appeared in numerous films and series. She has long been dreamt about writing and chose middle grade books because anything can happen in these stories and children (as well as adults reading these books) can believe in magic again. The Hatmakers is the writer’s first book.
The story takes us to an alternative 18th-century London, where making hats, capes, gloves, watches, or boots from magical ingredients is an ancient skill owned by only a few Maker families. One night a messenger arrives at the Hatmakers’ House and reports that Cordelia’s father is lost at sea. The news strikes everyone except Cordelia – she thinks what’s lost needs to be found. She would leave immediately to go after his father, but a series of strange events and an impending war would prevent this. As the family makes a hat for the emperor, Cordelia faces a threat to the entire empire.
Cordelia is a real protagonist: brave, intelligent, but she also has humor and imagination. Family connections are very important to her and also to the other characters in the story. I was most captivated by the atmosphere of the book: the way magic lies in everything and everyone. I also think this is the main message of the book: that everyone should find beauty in themselves and in everyday things and believe in miracles.
The magical illustrations are the work of Paola Escobar, whom you may have read about on BogiWrites earlier. The Hatmakers was also published in Hungarian a few months after the English release, and the next volume will be published in the UK this February under the title The Mapmakers. I hope we can also see it in Hungarian soon with the excellent translation of Anna Todero.