reviews 14+Secondary/Adult continued

in fact the cover does quote ‘For Older Readers’. This is going to be great for fans of people such as Charlie Higson, Darren Shan and other exponents of the horror genre.

being a fan (I used to hide from the Daleks as a child) of this type of story but there is a huge audience who love them. Alex Scarrow has produced a very well planned and plotted tale which gradually builds up the gore factor.

reader on a real roller coaster ride as you suddenly discover that looks can be deceptive and fighting against the enemy is more difficult than you could ever imagine. the genre.

A brilliant addition to MP


Mal Peet with Meg Rosoff, Walker, 267pp, 978 1 4063 3112 7, £12.99 hbk

This at times sad story also has a sad history, with the enormously gifted Mal Peet dying of cancer before he could get to its end. But his close friend, the equally uncompromising Meg Rosoff, accepted his wish that she complete the work. Here now is the result – a lean, angry story about the Canadian adventures of an early twentieth century orphaned boy of mixed race. Based on an account of young British orphans once sent out to Canada that Peet had read after a trip to Vancouver, no detail is spared of the shocking sexual abuse poor Beck has to suffer at the hands of the infamous Catholic Brothers once he landed in Quebec. He runs away, eventually finding solace with a kindly black couple who take him in and give him a job helping with their bootlegging operation. When that all ends in violence, Beck is on his own again. At this point, this story takes an

abrupt turn. For Beck still in his teens, finds home and love with Grace McCallister, a beautiful half-Scottish, half-native Blackfoot woman in her early thirties. A wealthy landowner, she employs Beck on her estate having fallen in love with him at first

The characters take the I will admit to not

sight. The couple continue to deny their feelings for each other which if declared would bring all sorts of problems in their wake. Hopelessly conflicted, Beck runs away again, nearly

magically transported back to the ranch where an annual sun dance ceremony is in full swing. Joining hands with Grace, he now feels he has genuinely come home for the first and last time. How much of this is Peet and

dies, and is then almost

was killed by her inability to adopt a measured sensible attitude to food. To Annabel, Julia is making herself seem weak-willed and stupid by her enslavement to food. The sheer genius of Hennessy’s book is that she enters with total confidence and conviction into the minds of these two diametrically opposed characters, a rare accomplishment indeed. Arguments in favour of moderation

and prudence as opposed to excess and rashness too easily verge on preaching.

how much Rosoff is left an open question. What really matters is that this novel definitely comes off, with its softening of tone towards the end balanced by the graphic cruelty that has gone before. Beck himself is a difficult, taciturn character, who has long ‘misered the cold coins of disappointment close to his heart.’ Understandably suspicious whenever things seem to be working out for him he is still able to accept his good fortune by the end, and few if any of his readers would wish it otherwise. NT

Nothing Tastes as Good HHHHH

Claire Hennessy, Hot Key Books, 336pp, 978-1-4714-0574-7, £7.99 pbk

The most

Annabel McCormack is that she is dead. She died at the age of seventeen, the reader learns, from anorexia. But now she is receiving instructions from a female known as the Boss, who while quite definitely not god has certain godlike powers. Her powers include assigning an earthly mission to Annabel. If Annabel

satisfactorily she will be permitted to send a message from the other side to her family, her mother, her father and her younger sister Imogen. Her task is to look after a living girl named Julia Jacobs, known to Annabel when both were alive. Julia is in many ways a model teenager. Her ambition is to

a journalist. She works hard and secures good academic results. She is the editor of the school journal, gaining valuable experience for her desired career. But she has a flaw. She is greedy and overweight. There is a reason, not yet divulged to the reader, why Julia indulges in comfort eating. But Julia’s weight problem comes to be an obstacle to her would- be ghostly protector. When Annabel looks at Julia she wonders how she is meant to protect someone damaging her own health and appearance. This is not the first book to depict a

young person leading a postmortal life among living people. But it is a difficult situation to stage convincingly. Such scenes

effect rather than a feature of natural story-telling. From the start Hennessy makes the situation seem normal. Of course we have ghostly protectors. Who could doubt that? There is an obvious gulf between

the two girls at the centre of this book. Food matters hugely. Annabel

often seem contrived for be performs her important thing about

that she personifies these elements in two utterly credible and utterly self- aware fictional characters. This book will make an ideal and uplifting gift for any girl’s fourteenth birthday.

RB Bad Blood: Part 1 HHHH

Jane Brittan, Blowfish Books, 248pp,

978-0-9932334, £6.99, pbk Bad Blood jumps right into

and Ben has been left an orphan living with his brother and his aunt. The difficulty of this situation is monumental. However, paired with school, navigating your love life at a young age and having a multinational pharmaceutical company on your tail creates whole new complications. Bad Blood: Part 1 is a tense that will keep you turning

thriller has just committed

with protagonist Ben who has just had his whole life ripped apart. His dad

life suicide Hennessy’s triumph is

cramped flat and Jake decides this intolerable

be avoided by sleeping at friends’ houses-until their parents’ patience runs out. He becomes homeless and, at his lowest ebb, resolves to tell his story through a serialised film which he and his friends then post online, inviting comments from those who view it. This is an intriguing and cleverly constructed

modern in format but timeless in the issues with which it deals-and there are many of them! Celebrity, Alzheimer’s, anger and confrontation, homelessness, the power

yet they weave together in a fast and entertaining read. for all the book’s

of the spoken word...... Disappointingly,

contemporary feel there is a happy Hollywood

friendship, autism, freshness and

rather against the realism of the rest of the narrative. Despite this irritant, David has produced a book which hits the Young Adult market dead centre and which will have much which is familiar to say to its readers. VR

The Graces HH

Laure Eve, Faber and Faber, 421pp, 9780571326808, £7.99, pbk


thriller hanging off the coat tails of the genre’s success in the past couple of years, Brittan brings an interesting new twist on this genre which will keep you switched on and unable to put the book down. The fact that Bad Blood is separated into two parts is the ultimate tease. The need to find out what will happen in Ben’s future, if he will reunite with Sophy and if Rees will continue to come after him is strong and I for one can’t wait for the release of Part Two.

ARo Cuckoo HHHH

Keren David, Atom, 260pp, 978-0-3490-0235-4, £6.99 pbk

Jake has always been an actor- principally in a long-running

hugely popular soap. However, his character has been in limbo for 6 months and Jake is beginning to realise that the work which he has relied on for so long has finally come to an end. Suddenly, life presses in on him: his father cannot keep a job because of his violent temper; his older brother is severely autistic and the family has run into financial difficulties which have resulted in his father using all Jake’s savings-without his knowledge-in a vain attempt to hold on to their family home.


the page. Jane Brittan makes this story entirely believable and has you rooting for Ben the throughout. The fact that this book is loosely based on real events from Brittan’s life makes it all the more heartfelt and her writing conveys the passion that she feels for the characters, whilst delivering an intense and exciting thriller for the YA genre. Instead of being another copy-cat

As with many a great coming of age story, The Graces starts with a young girl moving to a new city to start afresh with her family. The hardships of having to move away from your friends and loved ones at such a difficult age is something that

should be able to sympathise with. However, it soon becomes apparent that the town itself is not what River expected, but something that she had always searched for. Based on Greek mythology, the Grace family represents the Greek goddesses of charm, beauty, nature and human creativity. River is instantly lured into their world of witchcraft and yearns to be one of them. Soon lured into their world, River

everyone ending which grates book, thoroughly

They must all now cope in a situation can only

quickly learns that the charm and beauty that the Graces possess is not all that it seems to be. The novel takes a dark turn and the life at home takes a turn for the worse too. The Graces is a story that combining mythology with witchcraft and growing up could rival the young adult superpower Twilight. However, it does not quite hit the mark this time. Throughout the novel, there is a sense of falsehood with the main protagonist which deters you from enjoying this novel. River yearns to be one of the Graces and when the book finishes, disappointment ensues purely

rooting for River to have Laure Eve take away everything that she had created in this new town. Not only is the plot lacking, the

writing itself is filled with clichés which can often work really well within YA writing. However, The Graces leans more towards cheesy and overall can be read only with a pinch of salt and plenty of eye-rolling.

ARo from spending 300 pages

Books for Keeps No.220 September 2016 31

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