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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.
In a Nutshell: Brave Beauty | Menacingly magical | Feminist fairy tale A fantastical feminist reworking of Beauty and the Beast set in a fairy tale evocation of Japan, and companion to the author’s Shadows on the Moon. Hana has a gift passed to her from her grandmother. She can hear the trees. “There is a monster in the forest,” they warn, just as mothers warn their children not to venture near the Dark Wood in a bedtime story that’s all too real, for Hana’s people are cursed. They’re trapped in their valley, and trapped by their fear of being taken by the monster that's already claimed Hana’s great grandfather, grandmother and older brother. Hana blames herself for her brother's capture and wishes she’d been taken instead. And then her father goes missing. Hana finds him and carries him home, his body scratched by “claw marks from a paw wider than a man's back”. He’s alive but in an “unnatural sleep”, and can only be woken if someone kills the monster to break the curse. Driven by her strong sense of duty and familial love, only accomplished huntress Hana is prepared to brave the Dark Wood and confront the beast… The author's trademark visually lucid style (“Consciousness came back in a starburst of agony”), magnificent world-building and exquisitely formed plot make this a richly satisfying read with a smart feminist overtone: Marriott's Beauty is not the passive pawn of the original tale. Rather, Hana chooses to go to the Beast and the tables are turned - it is he who must redeem himself. ~ Joanne Owen Zoë Marriott says of Barefoot on the Wind: “We all know what the message of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is supposed to be: love others for who they are inside. But as I got older, it began to seem more and more strange to me that in the traditional fairy tale, it is innocent Beauty who is forced to learn to love the Beast, while the Beast is rewarded for threatening Beauty’s father and taking her prisoner. And so I set out to explore the story from a feminist perspective, asking, ‘What if Beauty went after the Beast of her own free will? And how could the Beast redeem himself in order to trulydeserve her forgiveness … and her love?’”
A prize-winning reinvention of the familiar Cinderella story set in a richly created Japanese setting, this is a powerful and haunting novel shot through with romance. Suzume is a shadow-weaver; she can become whoever she wants except her true self. Armed with her disguises, Suzume forges her way through life. But there is one man who can see through her. Will his love triumph? This richly invented Japanese world provides a fascinating backdrop for a powerful story.
Shortlisted for the prestigious Teenage Book Prize 2010. This is well written with excellent characterisation, particularly of the main protagonist in the story, a girl called Halo. There is plenty of excitement, action and adventure in the story together with lots of plot twists and turns and danger and intrigue as Halo tries to find out who she really is where she came from. The Teenage Book Prize 2010 shortlist: Halo - Zizou Corder Nobody's Girl - Sarra Manning The Enemy - Charlie Higson Revolver - Marcus Sedgwick Out of Shadows - Jason Wallace Unhooking the Moon - Gregory Hughes
A poignant and poetic novel that gives voice to the oft-forgotten children imperiled to trafficking and slavery. Eleven-year-old Esra, storyteller Miran and six-year-old Isa have been enslaved by a gang. They’re locked in a room beneath the house and must tend to The Jungle. “The tattoo on my arm… says I am owned”, Esra explains, but she knows a different truth. She knows that no marks on her skin can say who she really is. “One day, I will be free”, she resolves even as she’s being beaten. There’s a chance to escape, but Miran is too injured to do so. “With our souls tied together, we won’t ever be apart”, he whispers before urging Esra to flee with Isa. While Miran is hospitalised and captured by the police, Esra struggles to keep up her spirits. Then she and Isa form a bond with a “strange” boy named Skeet and together they make a man from the mud of the river. When Riverman takes on a life of his own, he might just lead them to the freedom they’ve been seeking. I adored the author’s previous novel, the hauntingly moving The Bone Sparrow, and this more than confirms her majestic writing skills, and a style that will surely be adored by fans of David Almond. By turns harrowing, heart-wrenching, and magical, this is an incredibly powerful - and incredibly important - novel.
October 2017 Debut of the Month In a nutshell: boy discovers his magical powers at school This funny, action-packed story will satisfy readers with a taste for magic, school capers and the absurd. Everyone in Zach’s family can do magic, except him. When he reaches the age of 11, still magic free, his parents give up and send him to his local school. Amongst the usual ups and downs of school – making friends, running up against the bullies, developing a massive crush on a fellow classmate – Zach discovers his magic, via of all things a pair of old baseball caps. Playing around with his new skill makes him something of a YouTube star, but attracts the attention of mean girl Trisha too. Neatly told with some of the zaniest scenes brought to life through cartoon strip illustration, this will be a real hit with young readers. ~ Andrea Reece
February 2013 Debut of the Month Passionate, sinister and thrilling, this captures both the friendship and the pressure on a group of highly talented young dancers whose lives are at risk from the dark mystery that haunts their school. Vanessa is newly arrived at the New York Ballet School. It is a dream for her but it is also an opportunity for her to try to find out why her even more talented older sister mysteriously disappeared from the same school a few years earlier. Vanessa is swiftly attracted to the highly attractive but dangerous Zeppelin Gray; she is willing to follow him anywhere. Will he give her a dancing opportunity of a lifetime or are his intentions far less honourable?
Shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2018 | In a Nutshell: Circus girl searches for roots amidst real-world cruelties A dazzlingly powerful kaleidoscope of magic realism, folklore and the brutalities of people-trafficking in which a fourteen-year-old circus girl seeks to uncover her identity. As a baby, Sante was washed up with a chest containing a bamboo flute and a leopard skin drum, and welcomed into Mama Rose’s travelling circus. Fourteen years later, still haunted by dreams of the sinking ship, and of those who furnished her with special objects to see her through life, Sante recognises two people from her dreams during a performance. “It's her all right. She plays just like Mamadou used to”, one of them remarks. But how do these people know her? Why does she dream of them? And who is Mamadou? Reluctant at first, Mama Rose reveals that Sante’s trunk also contained other treasures, including a note from her mother. With the strangers set on claiming Sante’s riches, she and snake charmer Cobra decide to discover the truth for themselves. Throughout, Sante’s story sings with the hauntingly potent voice of the human spirit as it combines timely, poignant truths about refugees with timeless storytelling. This really is a triumphant, thought-provoking treasure trove of a novel. ~ Joanne Owen The Branford Boase Judges said : ‘packed with memorable scenes and an extraordinarily vivid sense of place’; ‘language and story are equally interesting’; ‘things don’t come more original than this’.
Oxford School Shakespeare is an acclaimed edition especially designed for students, with accessible on-page notes and explanatory illustrations, clear background information, and rigorous but accessible scholarly credentials. Macbeth is one of the most popular texts for study by secondary students the world over. This edition includes illustrations, preliminary notes, reading lists (including websites) and classroom notes. This title is suitable for all exam boards and for the most recent GCSE specifications.
The first book in the Wind On Fire Trilogy. A richly imagined fantasy trilogy set in a world with strong and rigid conditions which are about to be crushed! Once Kestrel has learnt the secret of the Wind Singer she and her twin brother Bowman set out on a long journey during which they discover the secrets of the Singer people and break the power of the Mastery. Finally, they must return to the homeland. But, can they return together and can Kestrel survive? Conceived on a grand scale this story is peopled by a convincing and admirable cast led by Kestrel herself. Other books in the trilogy include Slaves of The Mastery, and Firesong.
The second book in the Wind On Fire Trilogy. A richly imagined fantasy trilogy set in a world with strong and rigid conditions which are about to be crushed! Once Kestrel has learnt the secret of the Wind Singer she and her twin brother Bowman set out on a long journey during which they discover the secrets of the Singer people and break the power of the Mastery. Finally, they must return to the homeland. But, can they return together and can Kestrel survive? Conceived on a grand scale this story is peopled by a convincing and admirable cast led by Kestrel herself. Other books in the trilogy include The Wind Singer, and Firesong.