A word of warning to start this review; unless you are very hard-hearted please don't read this in public! I started but had to admit defeat and retreat into my insular little bubble to complete the read.

Told via the dual narratives of Tom and Hannah, Days of Wonder is Keith Stuart's second novel, following the amazing debut A Boy Made of Blocks, and tells the story of a girl living with a serious heart condition. Not just the girl, Hannah, however, but her father Tom and her extended makeshift family of the people involved in the theatre Tom manages and in which Hannah has grown up. Despite my initial warning, it is by no means a depressing tale, rather one which takes you on that rollercoaster of emotions - touching, funny, sad and uplifting.

A Boy Made of Blocks was exquisite because of the characters it contained, and once again it is the characters that shine within Days of Wonder. Hannah manages to be an ordinary teenager with the most extraordinary way of dealing with her condition. That sounds so patronising and I really don't mean it to be; of course she deals with it, there isn't much of an alternative, but as anyone who has knowledge and experience of a child facing challenges, the way they cope can sometimes put adults to shame - that is perhaps a more explanatory (if not eloquent) way of putting it. Anyway (she says digging herself out of the hole she's put herself firmly in) Keith portrays this far better than I'm explaining it!

The relationship that Hannah has with her dad manages to run between those lines of her being a respectful and obedient daughter but one who is also trying to claw a way through to independence, and it portrays this quite realistically I felt. Though my own reference is so far with my son, I see the similarities. My son is one of these amazing children I speak of, and though his challenges aren't as life-threatening as Hannah's, they nonetheless help shape his sense of being. And he shares Hannah's determination to be 'normal' and to not be defined by the disability, but at the same time not being able to escape it. So therefore, I also identified with the feelings that Tom has of wanting to wrap Hannah up in a bubble, but knowing that ultimately some things are just out of our hands. Though of course, these are emotions parents all over the world feel, regardless of whether their child has a disability or not.

Anyway, sorry, digressing again - the characters; all of them are special and are the very solid foundation upon which Days of Wonder is built. I loved it, I did get the echoes of the feelings that I experience whilst reading the books by Jodi Picoult for some reason, I don't know why, but I just thought I'd throw that observation into the mix! The story itself is as magical as I hoped it would be, and it certainly kept me turning those pages well into the night. This is another rather special book from Keith Stuart, I hope it's a huge success.