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Find the latest books for fans of fantasy stories and magical tales! We have extracts to download for most of our books plus expert reviews.
A book about finding hope in the darkest of times | An extraordinary, powerful, and important book, based on the true story of how Liz Kessler’s father escaped from Nazi-occupied Europe thanks to a British couple his family had met once. But what elevates this book about three friends and their different fates in World War Two is the story of Max, the nice, ordinary boy who gradually becomes seduced into hatred and prejudice. The ringing question, ‘What would I do under these circumstances?’ echoes on every page. ~ Francesca Simon
Jessie Burton’s fiery feminist re-telling of the Greek myth of Medusa blazes with intrigue and beauty courtesy of author’s elegant style and Olivia Lomenech Gill’s fabulously evocative colour illustrations. It’s an incredible feat of intellect and imagination that takes down toxic masculinity and victim-blaming culture through an ingenious reframing, reclaiming of Medusa. The gods have exiled Medusa to a remote island, with no one for company but the snakes she has for hair. That is, until impossibly beautiful Perseus arrives and transfixes her: “I know a lot about beauty. Too much in fact. But I’d never seen anything like him…I wanted to eat him up like honey cake.” Desires awoken, Medusa won’t reveal her name, or let him see her: “I was just going to sit on the other side of this entrance rock and pretend that boys like him washed up on desert islands all the time.” This excerpt encapsulates one of the many marvellous things about this book. The writing - cleverly, and compellingly - feels both timeless and modern. Medusa’s narrative, and the dialogue, is laced with wit, and infused with tremendous detail. But betrayal swoops in the wake of desire, and all-too familiar mechanisms of patriarchy come into play with ferocity. Ultimately, though, and with a magnificent sense of sisterhood, Medusa comes to a new state of being: “Self-awareness is a great banisher of loneliness. And my sisters, the immortals, are with me.” This is terrifically inspiring and empowering in the ways of timeless myths, but also in ways that are very, very real - “you will find me when you need me, when the wind hears a woman’s cry and fills my sails forward. And I will whisper on the water that one must never fear the raised shield, the reflection caught in an office window, or the mirror in a bathroom.”
Shortlisted for the 2021 Branford Boase Award | A gobble-it-up fiery and intense yet thoughtful debut novel about family, betrayal, and witchcraft. Opening the pathway to a fabulous historical fantasy series this calls out as a must-read for young adults. Set during the civil war in 17th century England, 15 year old Evey has to flee with her little sister Dill when her mother is murdered. As with all good young adult novels, it is perfectly easy to slide into and really enjoy as an adult too, particularly with the wonderful cover drawing you in. Touching history, it flies into fantasy, as author Finbar Hawkins examines the meaning of witch. Evey is a complex character and as she tells her own story she has the ability of self-reflection, even if she doesn’t always like what she sees. Witch is a read that fair on crackles with energy, it also encourages thoughts to both consider and soar and deservedly sits as one of our LoveReading debuts of the month.
Twelve is a Huntling, in training to become a Hunter and pledged to serve the seven clans as a warrior. Full of rage and guilt following the massacre of her family and neighbours, she is determined to remain friendless and dedicate herself to revenge. But when the Hunting Lodge is attacked by goblins, and other creatures even worse, and Seven, the only person she has any connection with, is kidnapped, Twelve sets out to rescue the little girl. She’s joined on the quest by Dog, the Lodge’s huge, living stone guardian, and by the two boys she likes least. Together they face multiple dangers and an array of terrifying and tricky monsters. As in the best of these sorts of adventures – and this is definitely an example of the best of these kind of adventures – throughout their trials they learn more about each other and themselves. Aisling Fowling’s debut is a thrilling fantasy full of battles and creatures the like of which you’ve never seen before, and stars characters you’ll regard as friends by the book’s end. There will be more adventures for Twelve and co to come, and readers will be counting down the days to the next. One to recommend to fans of A Clock of Stars by Francesca Gibbons and Orphans of the Tide by Struan Murray.
Lily, our heroine, got sick a while ago, and now she just wants things to go back to how they were. This is complicated by the fact that Lily’s parents are just about to have another baby, so Lily is sent to her grandmothers to live whilst the baby arrives. Lily will not stay – and runs back home to find her parents have been replaced. Lily has one night to defeat the replacements and find her parents again – and make everything ‘right’. In this she is helped by some fascinating animal companions – Mouse, Mole, Crow and Snake have a wonderful humour, as well as providing the magic needed in every child’s story. Written with reference to our folk tale past – where talking animals often represent elements of human character, this is a delightful story you want to devour again and again. The story is supported and enhanced with Gravett’s dark illustrations; the writing is so visual the illustrations would be hugely missed. Gravett has used shadow and greyscale to create the wonderful characters, and an atmosphere that just oozes off the page as we read. This is the work of two masters of their arts – both can create wonderful reading experiences but joining them together makes for an unforgettable book that will find its way into many small hands now and long into the future.
Farr is a master storyteller as evidenced by his phenomenally successful screenwriting and directing for the stage. This is evident in the confidence with which he controls all the elements in this complex, engrossing fantasy thriller – his first novel for a child audience. Rachel and Robert live in a dictatorship in Brava that makes life very drab and humdrum – as well as very dangerous. Their father is a librarian – and on Rachel’s birthday he involves them in the theft of an important and forbidden book from the precious books room in the city library. For that theft he is captured – leaving the siblings with their ailing mother. When she dies it is planned that they will be separated into different parts of the grim orphanage that exists. Can they escape that fate, find out the secret of the book they keep hidden and keep it out of evil dictator Malstain’s hands? Meeting a wonderful cast of characters along the way – some good, some bad – they set off on individual journeys across the land to escape Malstain’s reach. This is a rich story, full of adventure, peril, and huge bravery from the children and many of the other characters, as well as awful evil. It will keep readers engaged and probably reading long after bedtime and lights out! Inspired by Farr’s great Aunt and Uncle’s escape from Nazi Germany this adventure is set in a timeless world that could be anywhere so that it will chime with children the world over. I hope Farr goes on to write more for children if this, his debut, is anything to go by.
Turn on your torches and join Aveline Jones! Aveline is thrilled when she discovers that the holiday cottage her mum has rented for the summer is beside a stone circle. Thousands of years old, the local villagers refer to the ancient structure as the Witch Stones, and Aveline cannot wait to learn more about them. Then Aveline meets Hazel. Impossibly cool, mysterious yet friendly, Aveline soon falls under Hazel's spell. In fact, Hazel is quite unlike anyone Aveline has ever met before, but she can't work out why. Will Aveline discover the truth about Hazel, before it's too late? Join the world of Aveline Jones, where mysteries are solved, spirits are laid to rest, and everybody gets to bed on time.
A magical, beautifully illustrated picture book about what it means to be a friend. Little Witchling lives alone in her mountain top and more than anything else, she wishes for a friend. So, when her spell-book tells her that the secret ingredient is the fur from a little girl's favourite teddy, she knows what she must do. But the teddy belongs to Lilly, who can't bear to part with him. Will Little Witchling give up her dream of a real friend? Or just maybe, is there a way for her and Lilly to make the wish come true, together? With a heartwarming rhyming text and breathtaking illustrations from Sarah Massini, this magical friendship story is perfect for little witches everywhere!
Reeling with romance, rebellion and a feverish sense of doing the right thing, Brigid Kemmerer’s Defy the Night melds magic with political struggles to create a fast-paced, fantasy epic fronted by an indomitable young female apothecary. Tessa Cade and handsome, enigmatic Weston are the Robin Hoods of their corrupt kingdom, a realm that’s brutally governed by King Harristan and his brother Prince Corrick; a realm in which only the richest can afford a cure for the disease that’s blighting their subjects. As a result, Tessa and Weston rob food and medicine from the rich to distribute to the poor, but Tessa is quick to realise that the only long-term way to end this unfair situation is to kill the king. Cue a high-stakes voyage to the kingdom’s dark core and a whole lot of soul-searching, plus plenty of heady romance. With whip-smart world-building and a cast of vibrant characters, this is a novel fans of Sarah J Maas and Cassandra Clare will devour.
September 2021 Debut of the Month | In this murky world Lester and Rita become detectives for hire. Their first case involves two vampires, a stolen jade mask and a baron mysteriously drowned in vat of lemonade. Rita and Lester will need to learn fast if they want to survive in a world where appearances are endlessly deceptive.
Kids are always being told that if they ‘dream their dreams’ one day those dreams will come true. ‘Living the dream’ is a very different experience for 11-going-on-12-year-old Malky in Ross Welford’s absorbing, vastly entertaining novel. Blackmailed into a bungled burglary, Malky becomes owner of a set of Dreaminators, mysterious machines that make dream worlds real and give the dreamer powers to control them. At first, Malky and his co-dreamer, little brother Seb, enjoy their night-time adventures, especially those in a Stone Age world closely based on Seb’s favourite storybook where they make friends, go hunting, and Seb has high hopes of riding a mammoth. If it seems too good to be true, of course it is, and as Malky’s ability to control what’s happening in his dreams weakens, everything – awake or asleep – starts to go wrong. When Seb is taken prisoner in a dream and falls into a life-threatening coma in real life, Malky has to face up to his responsibilities, not to mention the fears and anger his dreams have disguised, in one last terrifying dream. At least he has new friends there to help. The story is cleverly told and plotted, moving back and forward in time, from dream to reality, with Doctor Who ease. It’s full of humour too, e.g. a wonderful scene in the school canteen in which Malky does all the things he’s always dreamed of doing, not realising he’s actually awake. Core too are the really big things in life – friendship, love, family, learning about yourself and understanding others. It’s a book that delights in the fact that the inside of our head is bigger far than the outside. Readers who enjoy Welford’s excellent books will also race through Christopher Edge’s out-of-this world adventures.