No catches, no fine print just unconditional book love and reading recommendations for your students and children.
You can create your own school's page, develop tailored reading lists to share with peers and parents...all helping encourage reading for pleasure in your children.Find out more
Are you a fan of Thrillers? Check out all our Thriller book selections, read reviews, download extracts and you can order the book too!
August 2021 Book of the Month | What a diamond of a thriller this is - a genuine page-turner that snakes with twists readers genuinely won’t see coming. Who to trust? Who to believe? Sophie McKenzie has struck gold with her latest page-turner. Fourteen-year-old Cat is having a hard time of it, to put it mildly. She’s lost her father, her little sister doesn’t speak, and her mum, a former TV astrology celebrity, is more interested in her work than anything Cat says or does. But after receiving a bolt-from-the-blue text alleging that her dad is alive, Cat throws herself into trying to tracking him down, with the help of a newfound friend, handsome Tyler, the first person she’s been able to open up to for an absolute age. A search for a dad becomes a search for a priceless diamond, which in turn becomes a search for the truth - and then a struggle to understand that truth. Driven by Cat’s endearingly determined, courageous personality, this read-in-one-sitting thriller has family and friendship bonds at its fast-beating heart.
Published in partnership with Barrington Stoke, which makes it ideal for less-confident readers, Marcus Sedgwick’s Dark Peak tells a gripping, mysterious tale of two children who go missing during a school trip to a church in the heart of the Peak District. With a remarkable diversity of novels to his name - from gleefully gothic series for younger readers, to legend-driven Middle Grade fiction, to hugely-acclaimed, richly-layered YA novels - Marcus Sedgwick is an unswervingly elegant storyteller, and that’s certainly true of this highly-readable short novel - it chimes with bell-clear lucidity as it teems with tension. Set during the scorching summer of 1976, our compelling narrator, Porter Fox, becomes embroiled in a creepy mystery when two children go missing during his school trip to Lud's Church. The question is, “how do thirty-four people walk into one end of a tunnel but only thirty-two walk out of the other end? Because that is what happened”. Stranger still, when one of the vanished is found, the search for still-missing Stephen is called off, and no one speaks of the event: “it was as if a spell had been cast over the whole school, like in a fairy tale.” When Porter and his friend Sam take it upon themselves to dig deeper, they discover the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and other reports that seem to show how “Lud’s Church was a magnet for weirdness”. In addition to presenting a thoroughly enthralling, edge-on-your-seat thriller, the book includes fascinating background information, suggestions for further reading, topics for discussion, and a quiz.
Never one to shirk from tackling complex topics head on, Melvin Burgess’s Three Bullets imagines future England as a horrific entity in which the controlling body, The Bloods, will stop at nothing to attain their vision of Britain as a country of white Christians. Mixed-raced and trans, Martina (Marti) fits the The Bloods’ definition of “abnormals”. In her own words, “You won’t like me, not many people do”, and she’s certainly a complex, contradictory character throughout the novel. When her house is bombed, killing her mum, Marti and her little brother Rowan go on the run with Maude, who was taken into their fold after her own family were killed. Maude is the kind of person who “stuck to her word, for you or against you, which I liked. She had principles, which I kind of admired because I don’t have any myself,” Marti acknowledges. In addition, Maude can “shoot a gun, she knows first aid, she can drive. She’s pretty. She’s white. She has contacts and perfect tits”. The fear, violence and tension of living in a society at war, a country in which the ERAC (Evangelical Realignment Centre) exists to fix “idolaters and heretics and believers in equal rights” is evoked in all its horrific brutality. And amidst this, Marti is set on saving the father she assumed was dead, set on finding the software he created that might hold the key to transforming their world. Marti’s voice is unique and her will to survive like nothing The Bloods could have possibly imagined, as felt by readers as her story rips and races at breakneck speed.
June 2021 Debut of the Month | Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé’s Ace of Spades is an explosively exceptional debut. An incisively subversive, edge-of-your-seat thriller that takes the genre to jaw-droppingly unexpected extremes as it exposes horrific, deep-rooted institutionalised racism. The action centres around an elite high school in the white part of town. It has an all-white student population, except for our two principle characters - musician and scholarship student Devon, and privileged aspiring Yale alumnus Chiamaka. Devon (Von to his proud, hardworking Ma) can’t wear his hair in twists or cornrows here, and Chiamaka, of Nigerian and Italian heritage, feels compelled to hide her natural hair, and has adopted a “kill or be killed” stance - to achieve the success she’s set on, Chiamaka knows she’ll have to be tougher than tough. Devon and Chiamaka are sent reeling when an anonymous texter, Aces, starts revealing their deepest, darkest secrets, and it doesn’t take much to realise why they’re being targeted - the colour of their skin. And so a cruel cat-and-mouse game unfolds - two mice trapped in a destructive nightmare and a malicious cat motivated by racism, with homophobia weaponised too. While there are shocks aplenty (of the rare, ingeniously interwoven variety), the story is compellingly complex, with finely considered character exposition, and no simplified, clear-cut dichotomies drawn between who we can trust, and who should be top of our suspect list. The mounting tension is powerfully palpable, as is the embedded racism Devon and Chiamaka are subjected to - it runs deeper and wider than they (or readers) can possibly anticipate. Turns out, no one can be trusted; that there’s more than one cat in this hideous game. Oh, and there are romantic entanglements too, all of which means Ace of Spades delivers on all fronts - mystery, romance and tackling important issues in explosive style. What more could a reader ask for? *** Find a must-read letter from Faridah to her readers, attached to the extract.
Potently pertinent, William Hussey’s The Outrage wears its messages loud and proud on its sleeve. Think a YA LBGTQ+ version of The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Wizard of Oz; speculative fiction underpinned by aspects of present-day realities, and a belief in the importance of representation: “To see yourself reflected as a human being, with worth and dignity? I really think that has the power to change minds. Even save lives.” Deeply in love with his boyfriend Eric, the son of the chief inspector of Degenerate Investigations, aspiring filmmaker Gabe doubts he’ll ever be able to make the kind of movies he loves. Not in this England. Not living in the aftermath of the Outrage. In this society, it’s illegal to be gay, libraries have been shut down, and families who’ve contributed to the country have been put on “repatriation trains”. Sound familiar? The Outrage’s version of England certainly chimes with recognisable elements of the current political and cultural climate. And, through their discussions of trans rights, Windrush scandal-esque “send them home” policies, and the effects of climate change, the characters are powerful mouthpieces for big issues as they journey the gripping plot. Talking of which, Gabe, Eric and their fellow Rebel friends attend Mosley Grammar school. Though they’re excused from national service as a result of their Special Educational Exemption, they have a whole lot to hide when Protectorate Investigations arrive for their “annual scare-the-shit-out-of-the-kids assembly”. Then, everything unravels when Gabe and Eric are seen doing a whole lot of stuff they shouldn’t have been doing - under this regime, at least. A spirit of resistance surges as Gabe fights for a freer future in this most hostile of environments. Oh, and if that’s not enough, there’s romantic love, movie love, parental love, and love between friends who’ll always have each other’s backs, plus a powerful, heart-melting Wizard of Oz motif replete with Toto, Scarecrow and a quest to reach the Emerald City of the Emerald Isle - where the grass really is greener. All in all, a thought-provoking, page-turning reminder that “difference is good...defiance is essential” from the inventive author of Hideous Beauty.
Gripping from the first moment on, this is a scary, an unputdownable and a brilliantly plotted fantasy. One minute all the adults are there - next they're gone! Only the children remain and they are trapped, cut off from the outside world and, scarily, left to rule themselves. Can they survive? With no guidance, gangs start to form. Danger lurks at every corner and everyone has to make a choice – to be cruel or humane. It’s a chilling prospect and the new world order is scary for all. It's Lord of the Flies for the Heroes generation with just a dash of the X-Men thrown in for good measure.
Solidarity through struggling to survive. Community through catastrophe. Hope through heartache, and life after loss. Sera Milano’s searingly stirring This Can Never Not Be Real shows how the human spirit can endure the most horrific experiences, in this case a brutal terrorist act that turns a quiet community’s annual festival into a bloodbath. Written from the viewpoints of five young characters in bursts of arresting first-person narratives (often just a single paragraph; at most a page or two), this is edge-of-your-seat-stuff with the power to grip even the most distracted of readers. Though written as the characters recount the horrifying events at an inquest, those events unfold before readers’ eyes with unflinching descriptions of the atrocious attack and its aftermath, and with tremendous tension - we don’t know how this will end, or who ends up surviving. Threaded through with the characters’ overriding desire to support each other, and their will to survive, the novel makes important points about the incomprehensibility of such attacks - the “Why us?” question. As is often the case, such attacks could have happened someplace else, to other people. The message of this book is that what really matters is how we come through such events, how we emerge in a spirit of love, with a greater appreciation of life. As such, This Can Never Not Be Real is as much a valuable tool for dealing with traumatic events as it is a brutally gripping, thought-provoking page-turner.
While witches might be steeped in gold, Ciannon Smart’s mighty debut is steeped in the majesty of Caribbean magic as it weaves the gripping journey of two vengeful witches. The first in a duology, Witches Steeped in Gold is a stunner for readers who love complex plots driven by strident characters, and comes especially recommended for fans of epic, female-fronted fantasy, such as The Gilded Ones, Children of Blood and Bone, and series by Sarah J Maas. Heir to a conquered, magical dynasty, Iraya was exiled from the island nation of Aiyca as a child. Having spent her life in a cell, she’s a warrior set on securing her freedom - and revenge: “there’s nothing like the potential betrayal of your oldest and best sestren, a friend closer to you than any other, to challenge any doubts about avenging your murdered parents.” And she plans to use Obeah magic to do just that - “the ways of Obeah in matters of vengeance are clear. It is justice to take in equal part that which was stolen from you.” Meanwhile, gold-swathed Jazmyne is a threat to her mother’s power as self-crowned Doyenne, “part of the resistance working against the very structure I serve.” And so the stage is set for two vengeful witches to form an alliance that might see them achieve their respective desires. Smart’s world-building and sense of place is gorgeously sensory - you can hear, smell and taste, for example, the “musical patwah mingling with peppery jerk spice and opiate smoke.” An ambitious concept, delivered in intricate style, Smart’s debut is a satisfyingly complex page-turner.
April 2021 Book of the Month | This exquisitely creepy YA shocker whirls with gritty horror, witty one-liners, Insta-worthy visual conjurations and the menacing mystery of three bewitching sisters who vanished in childhood. “Dark dangerous things happened around the Hollow sisters. We each had black eyes and hair as white as milk...We didn’t have friends, because we didn’t need them.” So explains the youngest sister, Iris. As children, the three sisters vanished one New Year’s Eve on the strike of midnight and reappeared with their hair and eyes a different colour, tiny baby teeth in place of their adult teeth, and no memory. “In possession of an alchemical self-confidence that belonged to much older humans,” Iris’ older sisters have “set off into the world, both bound for the glamorous, exotic futures they’d always known they were destined for”, leaving her alone in North London with her mother. Sinister bells toll when seventeen-year-old Grey, a supermodel and designer of decadent couture “who looked like sex and smelled like a field of wildflowers”, fails to turn up to middle sister Vivi’s punk gig in Camden, and then there’s the mystery of the man wearing a horned skull. There are books with unexpected twists, then there’s House of Hollow - imagine losing your way in a decaying fairy tale forest, where tangled tree roots trip you up, and you have no idea what terrors skulk within its ever-shifting mists. At times grisly and always eerie, this intoxicating cocktail of contemporary horror and mythic menace is a lushly-written feast.
Fleur Hitchcock delivers another scorching crime drama in Waiting for Murder. It’s a baking hot summer and Dan is away from the city and his friends, with his mum on her archaeological dig, where they might just have found the bones of King Harold’s wife, Edith the Fair. But it’s Dan’s discovery of much more recent remains that sparks the adventure, uncovering evidence of treachery and murder and starting a new treasure hunt. The story reaches its climax just as the weather finally breaks, and a torrent of water threatens to sweep everything and everyone away. Full of thrills, twists and surprises, this will keep everyone on the edge of their seats.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2021 | Zaynab arrives in Devon from her home in Somaliland after the death of her mother, a passionate activist trying to improve lives in drought-stricken Somaliland. Unhappy, and lonely in her new environment, Zaynab begins her own campaign against the climate crisis drawing on her first-hand view of its devastating effect on her home country. She quickly finds fellow supporters among her classmates, including particularly Lucas who is equally passionate for different reasons. Challenging their school’s prohibition on campaigning is the first big step and taking part in the national protest is the second. In doing both Zaynab shows her peers that children like them need to be heard. And that they can make a difference. But the stakes are high and, when Zaynab uncovers a big company with a sinister and destructive programme, she has to decide just how hard she will fight. Zaynab’s passionate commitment is infectious – readers will be inspired.
The fourth in this hi-octane series featuring four teenagers, each of whom have different psychic powers, who together can defeat almost anything. One of them Dylan has her hands chock full as she tries to discover the truth behind his father's death, the scientist who created the medusa gene that gives these children their powers. It's a roller coaster ride.