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Danny Weston is the YA pen name for popular children and YA writer Philip Caveney. He lives with his wife in Edinburgh.
His best known books are the Sebastain Darke series for middle grade readers, and The Piper and The Haunting of Jessop Rise for YA readers.
This inventive page-turner opens with a superb sense of peril as sixteen-year-old Alfie moves from Bristol to spend summer in a small village in the north of England. There’s menace from the moment he chances upon a stone in a churchyard and local girl Mia explains the superstitions around it - if a person walks around the stone three times uttering the words “I don‘t believe in witches” Meg Shelton will come for you! Keen to show he doesn’t believe such nonsense, Alfie does exactly that - with immediate menacing effects, and it’s not long before he realises that he’s become a conduit for Meg, a woman murdered for being a witch way back in 1705. Defying convention and expectation, not only is this a gripping page-turner, but it’s brilliantly funny too, with comedy springing forth the moment Meg springs into Alfie’s life (and shower…). What’s more, it’s also edge-of-your-seat pacey as Alfie and Mia - with the help of Mia’s witch-expert aunt - race against time to help Meg make peace with her past, with the stakes high, and their feelings running pretty high too.
Island of Shadows | Set in post-war Britain, this gripping novel is steeped in atmosphere and adventure - think Enid Blyton for older readers with lashings of creepiness in place of cream buns and ginger beer. Noah and his adoptive mother Millicent, a bestselling children’s author, are finding life hard after losing their beloved Captain in battle. Struggling to write a new novel, Millicent insists they head to the remote Scottish island of Inchtinn to find inspiration. Inchtinn means “Island of the Sick”, on account of it being home to a ramshackle 400-year-old leper hospital and not much else, apart from rumours of ghosts and unpleasant deaths, and a colony of aggressively protective guillemots. When Noah encounters an otherworldly cave-dwelling girl, a sinister real-life mystery unfolds as Millicent struggles with her fictional Adventurers story. To Noah’s huge exasperation and anger, she won’t heed his insistence that they’re in danger. Indeed, tensions between mother and son run high throughout, and are powerfully addressed in the thrilling final sequences when Noah must face his greatest fears. The novel’s rugged natural-world backdrop and classic ghost story motifs set it apart from many books for younger teens. Miranda Harris’s haunting line drawings make it unusual too - it’s a rare joy for novels aimed at this age to be illustrated. With its spirit of adventure and theme of facing deep-rooted fears in a grown-up way, this will satisfy readers on the cusp of their teenage years who don’t yet want to leave behind the mystery and magic of Middle Grade novels.
September 2016 Book of the Month | Chilling historical novel in which an orphan becomes entangled in a web of supernatural goings-on and family secrets. It’s 1853 and, following the death of his father, William’s Uncle Seth offers to take him in, so he walks the eighty miles to Seth's cliff top mansion in North Wales, land of his deceased father. While William tries to settle into these unfamiliar, unfriendly circumstances (his uncle is arrogant, ill-humoured and makes William work as a valet to his stepson, Toby), he witnesses a series of unsettling occurrences - the sound of a woman sobbing for help, the sight of a cloaked figure near the cliffs, words written in frost on his window. Could these haunting happenings be the work of the Hag of the Mist, as claimed by Rhiannon, the superstitious scullery maid? William is unconvinced, but the home truths turn out to be even more terrifying than local folklore. Alongside the thrilling unfolding of the mystery, this truly gripping tale also features a strong strand about seeing the good in people and acting nobly. Perceptive, good-natured and empathetic, William is a character you really do root for (he even finds it in his heart to understand how Toby came to be such an idle brat, and he even risks his own life to protect him), and his action-packed story would surely make an enthralling screen adaptation.
Danny Weston writes decidedly creepy thrillers, and this will certainly send shivers down the spine. The eponymous Mr Sparks is an ancient wooden ventriloquist’s dummy, who claims to be a real boy. He can certainly think and speak for himself, and his character is so cruel and ruthless that to some he seems to be an incarnation of the Devil himself. When twelve-year-old Owen finds himself in the position of puppet master he has no choice but to do what Mr Sparks tells him – but just maybe Owen’s honesty and compassion will keep him safe. Set just after the end of the First World War, this is a very chilling and effective supernatural adventure. ~ Andrea Reece
Winner of the Scottish Children's Book Awards 2015 12-16 age category - October 2014 Debut of the Month A haunting and moving story as something sinister from the past reaches out to two children evacuated to Romney Marsh in the Second World War. Newly arrived from London, Peter and Daisy are taken to Sheldon Grange. It’s a lonely place set deep in the Marsh and they are warned not to explore on their own. The house is full of strangeness and soon Daisy is drawn to the haunting music she can hear at night and to the children dancing to it. How can Peter keep her safe? Commenting on his win, Danny said: “I am absolutely thrilled to have won this award, especially because it has been voted for, not by critics and industry insiders, but by the people who matter most; the young readers for whom the story was actually written. Thanks to everyone who voted for ‘The Piper’. You have rocked my world.”