ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – The Fellowship of Puzzlemakers by Samuel Burr

The Fellowship of Puzzlemakers by Samuel Burr will be published by Orion on 9th May in hardcover, eBook and audiobook. My thanks to the publishers for the proof copy.

Sometimes finding your place in the world is the greatest puzzle of all…

Clayton Stumper is an enigma.

He might be twenty-five years old, but he dresses like your grandad and drinks sherry like your aunt.

Abandoned at birth on the steps of the Fellowship of Puzzlemakers, he was raised by the sharpest minds in the British Isles and finds himself amongst the last survivors of a fading institution.

When the esteemed crossword compiler, Pippa Allsbrook, passes away, she bestows her final puzzle to him: a promise to reveal the mystery of his parentage and prepare him for his future.

Yet as Clay begins to unpick the clues, he uncovers something even the Fellowship have never been able to solve – and it’s a secret that will change everything…

When I first heard The Fellowship of Puzzlemakers mentioned I knew there was no way I could resist a book with that title. Having just finished reading it I can say that the whole story offers just as much quirkiness and joy as the title does.

When Clayton Stumper was a baby, he was left on the steps of the house owned and lived in by the members of the Fellowship of Puzzlemakers. These great minds of their generation were known for their amazing puzzle skills – you name it, they were brilliant at it. Think crosswords, mazes, jigsaws, code-breaking, arithmetic and so on. Clayton is brought up by the Fellowship but primarily by the woman who started it all, Pippa Allsbrook. When Pippa dies she leaves Clayton a trail to follow to find out more about who he really is.

One of the characters in this book says something along the lines of “everybody loves a puzzle”, and isn’t that the truth? We all enjoy a puzzle of some description and I really loved the puzzles contained in this story. Not only are there some actual puzzles dotted throughout, but the real brainteaser is the one that Clayton has to solve and I took so much pleasure from following his journey from a fairly closeted life to realising what he wants from his future.

Every character is a darling in their own way. I had particular soft spots for Pippa, who was a crossword compiler, and Earl, a mazemaker, but I thought every single one was perfectly drawn. Each has their own little idiosyncrasies but they’re all united by their strengths and abilities in the puzzling arena. Clayton is so lovely too. The story follows him on his quest, whilst in alternating chapters we are taken back into the past to the formation of the Fellowship and the introduction of the members.

This is a debut novel by Samuel Burr and I know it is going to fly high. It’s utterly charming in every way, such a comprehensive delight to read and populated with characters that just jump off the page. I absolutely adored it.

Samuel BurrΒ is a TV producer who has worked on popular factual shows including the BAFTA-nominatedΒ Secret Life of 4-Year-Olds. Samuel’s writing was selected for Penguin’s WriteNow scheme and in 2021 he graduated from the Faber Academy. He previously studied at Westminster Film School.


  • Seem to have been hearing about this one for ages! Sounds brilliant.

    • It does seem to be one of those that is everywhere and yet hasn’t been published yet. This week though! It really is a wonderful book.

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