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BfK 10 – 14 Middle/Secondary continued New Talent Why I Went Back HHHH


James Clammer, Andersen Press, 288pp, 978-1-7834-4377-2, £7.99 pbk


Suppose your mother has died,


your father seems to have lost his grip on life. Keeping everything going is up to you - but you are only fourteen. Your prized possession is that bicycle, all eighteen gears and shining frame. It is your salvation. Then, it is stolen. You must get it back. The chase leads to a deserted factory - and a mystery. This is James Clammer’s debut


- and a very promising one. Aidan, the teenager through whom the story is told, comes across with an authentic voice and a real presence. He is not a totally likeable boy; a bit of a bully but he is doing his best while hiding a very real fear. The language is contemporary without jarring; the writing has a pleasing immediacy and assurance


that


draws the reader in suspending disbelief. And it is true, belief does have to be suspended. The immediate impression is that this is a thriller - a crime novel. On one level it is. An old man appears to have been kidnapped. But who is he - where does he come from?


begins: ‘Who could have guessed that she used to be a fairy?’ and it moves apparently effortlessly to and fro from a fairy tale world of prince brothers, one cruel and tyrannical, the other gentle


France. Both worlds and their various incidents and characters are deftly brought to life. And exile, thwarted love,


a beguiling tale which is both epic and


portentous, intimate


political and personal and illuminates the qualities that characterise the best in both worlds. CB


Storm Weaver HHHH


Matt Griffin, O’Brien Press, 256pp, 978-1847177834, £6.99 pbk


The series that began with Matt Griffin’s impressive and imaginative debut Cage of Roots continues in Storm Weaver. Its four


protagonists, Ayla, Finn, Sean and Benvy, are still trapped underground in the goblin tunnels,


underworld Maeve she has special powers, though Maeve exhibits no affection but on the contrary is determined to consume Ayla and


of the queen of young


from the ordinary human world and with no apparent way home. Ayla has discovered that as a direct descendant


the separated


take those powers for herself. Finn, Sean and Benvy have no one to turn to for help, no resources to support them other than their own courage and determination, fuelled by loyalty and friendship. It’s exciting and exhilarating stuff, both the dangers of the underworld and the trials the children face equally well described. Readers are properly aware of the importance of their human qualities in the battle against Maeve and her cohorts, and there’s a real sense of the nature and physicality of the world in which they find themselves.


28 Books for Keeps No.218 May 2016 brings together and, without


This is being


and loving, to historical


interwoven in a plot that mysteriously twists and turns its way to a powerful and satisfying conclusion.


the friendship and treachery are


This is not Skellig, and Clammer does provide a resolution that is both reasonable and allows for a satisfying conclusion. However, for some there will be an awkwardness between the mix of reality and fantasy that weakens the author’s achievement. It is to his credit that the confidence with which he presents his story ensures that from the moment Aidan starts to talk the reader wants to know what happens next. I look forward to seeing this author develop his voice. FH


FH


adventures that pit young children against monsters from other worlds, few have the integrity of this story, which draws deeply and successfully


legend. The emergence of our four young people as heroes is stirring stuff and there’s a real sense of danger


that one of them will die in this battle is ever present.


fantasy adventure. The author’s eerie black and white illustrations add to the mood. MMa


Devil’s Blood HHH


Andrew Prentice and Jonathan Weil, David Fickling Books, 288pp, 978-1-9102-0057-5, £7.99 pbk


It has been a long wait for this second book in the Books of Pandemonium sequence. Nor does it disappoint. In the first novel, Black Arts, shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2013, we were


place, Tudor London - a London where superstition and the belief in devils is very real. And London has many devils hidden in the layers of its history. When Jack awakens one of these he finds himself catapulted into a battle for the soul of the city. He does not emerge unscarred. It was a sprawling action- packed read with a gripping climax. Now we are back. Jack and Beth


have a problem. They have been robbed. The solution – to use the legacy of their previous adventure which gave Jack the ability to detect devils. They must steal a devil; more specifically a devil who inspires revelry. It seems such an obvious, if daring, plan. But plans involving devils are unlikely to be simple. Jack, Beth and Kit find themselves transported to a future London. It is 1792, the Age of Reason. London has been rebuilt after the Great Fire. Devils no longer feature - or do they? What about those poor souls in Bedlam? And who is Lord Ravenscar and the Hell Fire Club? Will Jack be able to rescue Beth and return home? Densely packed, the action never


stop, demanding you keep your wits about you. Though it is not absolutely necessary to have read the first book, it would certainly help. The historical settings in both are very real, and though the period details are worn lightly, there is no doubt that the reader is in the past, a vivid, noisy, smelly past full of life. The fantasy elements are powerful drawing on known traditions and legends. In Jack and his friends- not forgetting the Imp, readers journey with characters they will want to meet again. And the neat enigmatic ending hints that there may still be adventures to come. FH


Arrivals: How Long Can a Secret Be Kept


HHHH


Brian Gallagher, O’Brien Press, 240pp, 978-1847177209, £6.99 pbk


Set in Canada and for the most part in 1928, Arrivals is a well-written page-turner; the story of an unusual friendship between three


people, it’s a crime adventure and a successful mystery story too.


young introduced to Jack. The


Teenager Ciara has returned to her grandfather’s house in Ontario with her father on the old man’s death. She misses her grandfather but is excited too because he has left her a real life mystery story to discover. Readers are already ahead of Ciara and know that the story concerns her grandfather as a twelve year old and his friends Will and Lucy. The three came from very different backgrounds but formed a close friendship in that summer long ago. Mike’s dad was the janitor at The Grove, a school for sons of the very wealthy and his family had moved from Dublin to Canada after the war, when Catholics who had fought for the British, as Mike’s dad did, found themselves regarded with suspicion or hostility by their neighbours. Will’s family were also Irish and from County Derry.


wealthier, and his father ran a big steel company. Lucy was a member of Ontario’s Ojibwe tribe and grew up on the Otonabee Reserve with her mother, though she dreamed of being an artist. An encounter with the Grove’s bully Moose Packham, who felt himself entitled to lord it over each of them, brought them closer together. When Lucy became witness to a murder committed by Moose’s equally unprincipled father, the boys worked with her to expose him, a decision


their lives for ever. The story of the friendship at the


heart of the novel is well told and thoroughly convincing. The is fascinating and


too, conveying a real sense of the excitement of the late 1920s and of the looming changes to society. Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart are the new superstars, old assumptions about class, status and even race are just beginning to be questioned. The children’s friendship allows the author to explore these issues, and religious intolerance too, but it is done subtly and as part of the story. MMa


The House on Hummingbird Island


HHHH


Sam Angus, Macmillan, 372 pp, 978 1 447 2630 36, £6.99 pbk


If you want a book to take you to a different world, full of exotic animals and strange mysteries and secrets,


well realised setting that could have changed Protestants, they were much This is an original, enthralling throughout, the possibility from Irish myth and very While there are lots of fantasy


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