Series: The Train to Impossible Places
By P.G. Bell
“I’m Suzy,” said Suzy. “Suzy Smith. And I’d like to know who you are and what you’re doing here, please.”
“I suppose we do owe you the courtesy.” The light bobbed and weaved as Stonker grappled with the lantern, then it flickered out entirely. It took Suzy a few seconds to blink away the red and green smudge it left on her vision, and then she saw him.
He was the same sort of creature as Fletch, though his skin was a flinty grey and less warty and wrinkled. He wore a smart blue uniform, with a coat that reached his ankles and a peaked cap with silver piping. He looked down at her past both his enormous nose and an equally impressive salt-and-pepper moustache, as thick and lustrous as a badger, which hung down almost to his knees before the tips curled back up into rigid little spirals. His blue eyes twinkled as he spoke.
“J.F. Stonker,” he said. “Driver of the Impossible Postal Express. The finest troll train on the rails.” He reached up and gave the locomotive’s boiler an affectionate pat.
“You’re trolls?” she said. “How is that possible?”
“We hadn’t intended to stop,” said Stonker, “but I’m afraid you wandered onto the tracks. You’re jolly lucky the brakes have just been serviced.”
“But that wasn’t my fault,” said Suzy, feeling the temperature rise in her cheeks. “The tracks aren’t supposed to be here. None of this is supposed to be here. Including you!” This was all starting to feel terribly unfair.
“Fear not,” said Stonker. “We’ll be on our way again momentarily, and Fletch will have the tracks up and everything back to its normal proportions in no time. You’ll never know the difference.”
“Normal proportions?” For the first time, Suzy realized there was a question she hadn’t asked herself: how could such an enormous steam engine possibly fit inside her house? She looked up past the locomotive, and saw the hall ceiling, impossibly high above her head, the purple light shade like a distant hot-air balloon. The hall had grown to the size of a cathedral without her even noticing.
“What happened?” she said, wide-eyed. “What did you do?”
“Not really my department, I’m afraid,” said Stonker. “Fletch here is the technical genius.”
Fletch sniffed. “I try my best.”
Suzy hardly heard them. She was running back and forth, trying to take it all in. The living room door was as tall as a cliff now, and she would have to stand on tiptoes if she wanted to reach the top of the skirting board. The kitchen door had vanished altogether, replaced by another enormous stone arch. The tracks didn’t end there any more, but ran on into the blank darkness beyond. Her voice echoed in the cavernous space as she cried, “You shrank us!”
“Nah,” said Fletch, cocking his head to one side and plucking at the hair in his ears. “I just gave the hall a bit of a stretch, that’s all.”
“You mean you made everything bigger?” Suzy gaped at him, horrified. “But that’s worse! How big’s the house now? It must take up half the street.”
“What sort of a fly-by-night merchant do you take me for?” said Fletch. “I didn’t make the outside any bigger, and I haven’t touched any of the other rooms. What would be the point of that?”
“Wait a minute.” Suzy fought to digest this new information.
“You mean the house is still its normal size, even though you’ve made the hall bigger than the house?”
“That’s right.” Fletch grinned, warming to his topic. “It’s pretty standard stuff, really: your basic meta-dimensional engineering, a dash of magic and a few bits of double-sided sticky tape. Job done.”
Suzy looked again at the living room doorway. She could still see her parents beyond it, fast asleep and normal-sized, but the doorway itself seemed to flicker and stretch when she focused on it. It only took her a few seconds to realize she was seeing it as both sizes at the same time, but by then it had started to make her feel seasick and she had to look away. “No,” she said, shaking her head. “I’m sorry, but that’s impossible.”
“Is it?” said Fletch, feigning surprise.
“You can’t just make something bigger on the inside than the outside.”
“Course you can. It’s simple fuzzics.”
Suzy frowned. “You mean ‘physics’.”
“No,” said Fletch. “Fuzzics. Like physics, only fuzzier.”
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All aboard for a magical journey...
When Suzy hears a strange rattling noise in the middle of the night, she creeps downstairs to find a train roaring through her house.
But this is no ordinary train. This is the magical delivery express for The Union of Impossible Places.
Whisked onboard by a troll boy called Wilmot, Suzy's world is turned upside down when she's given the job of delivering a cursed package to the fearsome sorceress, Lady Crepuscula.
Except when the mysterious package begs not to be delivered, Suzy discovers the fate of the Impossible Places might just be in her hands...
The Train to Impossible Places is a beautiful hardback with a hidden cover underneath the jacket and glorious illustrations from Flavia Sorrentino.
“Great fun, fast-moving and inventive”
Philip Reeve, author of Mortal Engines
“An exciting, imaginative, wild ride of a story that never lets up for a minute.”
Robin Stevens, author of Murder Most Unladylike
P.G. Bell is a native of south Wales, where he was raised on a diet of Greek mythology, ghost stories and Doctor Who. He's had all sorts of jobs over the years, from lifeguard to roller coaster operator, but all he's ever really wanted to do is write stories for a living. And now he does! He lives in Wales with his wife Anna, and their two children.
Visit www.pgbellwriter.com/ to find out more.
See more readers’ reviews at Goodreads.com.
Read the following reviews or write one of your own.
This is a fast-paced, well written, magical adventure, and is full of clever puns and jokes. As a 10 year old, it’s hard to imagine what living upside down or in the Moon would be like, but this book really gives you an insight into a brilliant, mythical world. When Suzy Smith discovers a train roaring through her house she’s quickly whisked aboard and tasked with delivering a cursed package, but she soon discovers that the fate of the Impossible Places might be at risk. I really enjoyed the chapter where the World is frozen in time, because Suzy wasn’t stuck and everybody else was frozen mid-action. There are a lot of twists and turns spread throughout the book. I would 100% recommend this book for anyone age 9 to 11, especially fans of Cressida Cowell. All in all a great read!
“An incredibly confident debut which is endlessly imaginative, highly inventive worldbuilding and a plot every bit as unpredictable as the train itself.”
“an excellent read for young and old - full of fun, magic, adventure and a hint of danger”
5 Star review from Independent Book Reviews
“Full of unexpected twists and turns, this is an ingenious and unusual story.”
Parents in Touch
“a harum-scarum fantasy adventure crammed with quirky action.”
“This roller-coaster of a book is pacey, fun, and full of lots of fantastical new ideas.”
“a tale destined to become a classic; a rip-roaring adventure full of mystery, magic, goodies, baddies, laughs, thrills, spills… oh, and a science called fuzzics (that’s physics, only fuzzier).”
Pam Norfolk, Lancashire Evening Post