Books & Literature

Book Review: The Dangerous Business of Being Trilby Moffat, by Kate Temple

MIDDLE-GRADE: This is the dangerous story of Trilby Moffat, who took on one of the most treacherous jobs of all time. Well . . . outside of time, to be precise. For fans of Nevermoor and Lemony Snicket.

A fast-paced story for middle years kids who love a quirky story with great characters, but especially love cake!

Feature image credit: Hachette Australia

Kate and Jol Temple are known for their many picture books and children’s novels, most notably I Got This Hat, the Bin Chicken series, and the Underdogs series. The Dangerous Business of Being Trilby Moffat is Kate’s first time writing alone.

From the enticing front cover showing three children on a boat catching a toucan in a net, flying cakes, and an unusual island in the distance, this story will grab the reader from the very first page. The first paragraph tells us that everything is worse when your room is on fire. And from then till the very end, we are kept on our toes as the story races ahead whether we are ready or not.

The Dangerous Business of Being Trilby Moffat, as we soon find out, is of course narrated by what else but a thylacine who has a law degree. He tells us that six months earlier everyday people started acting strangely. They began speaking and singing in ancient languages, sleeping at very inopportune times, and generally not behaving as normal. Trilby’s mother unfortunately began to experience these changes in behaviour, so before she fell asleep and didn’t wake up again (as was happening to others) her mother wanted to make sure Trilby was safe. So began a train journey to Nowhere Else Pier where a relative lived at a shop called Lost in Time Antiques (which is only open for three minutes a week). Once there, she found her Great Aunt Thumbelina who is apparently 300 years old and a Timekeeper.

Each chapter heading is a crossword clue which adds to the fun. (answers are at the back of the book). There are no pictures, but they are absolutely unnecessary as the text completely brings the story to life.

The Dangerous Business of Being Trilby Moffat moves along at an extremely fast pace. There is little time to take a breath as we get to know all the quirky characters, both good and downright evil. We meet rude, sarcastic cats, friends who would do anything to help, and those who only care about themselves. We also learn that we all have the power to stand up to evil.

Temple uses clever similes and a great sense of humour to keep the reader on the edge of their seat from beginning to end. There is always a sense of the ridiculous, which somehow feels perfectly normal. If you have ever wondered why books and movies never mention the characters needing to go to the toilet, have no fear; Temple has this covered.

Time is at the very centre of this book — how fast it moves, being stuck in time, lack of time, stealing time and how precious time really is.

For those who loved A Series of Unfortunate Events, this is the book for you. And parents, don’t be put off by the middle years’ recommendation; you will enjoy it just as much. It is a great book for teachers to read with their class and will no doubt create much discussion. 

The Dangerous Business of Being Trilby Moffat is a book that must be read, and thankfully there is a second one on its way. It is fun, ridiculous, and scary at times, but always about cake. Lots and lots of cake!!

PS: If you think Trilby is an odd name, that was the name of my grandmother!

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

The views expressed in this review belong to the author and not Glam Adelaide, its affiliates, or employees.

Distributed by: Hachette Australia
Released: September 2022
RRP: $16.99

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