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BfK 10 – 14 Middle/Secondary continued Incredible Hulk and gentle Jesus.

Thereafter, several varieties of Hell are let loose: an hilarious conga in Valhalla, a riot in a nightclub in Hades, and a climactic encounter with the Dark Lord himself in the glistening vivisection lab which constitutes the Inferno’s newly built tenth circle. (‘Try not to touch anything,’ Satan advises. ‘The paint’s still wet.’)

This is a rollicking great novel, the second in Hutchison’s Afterworlds series, an unholy hybrid of Dante, Pratchett and Monty Python. While older children and adults in search of anarchic entertainment with a flavour of mildly pungent blasphemy about it will be delighted by this book, there are also big, ambitious themes to be glimpsed amidst the relentless gush of slapstick carnage and bathetic one-liners. A warm sense of human solidarity is kindled by the friction between angels and demons, and the semi-denouement is both intriguing and moving. Highly recommended for fans of comedic action and theological farce, and as therapeutic fiction in faith schools.


Angie Sage, Bloomsbury, 528pp, 9781408806265, £12.99 pbk

the end. For those coming late to the sequence, it will encourage them to go to the beginning and read all the books, a real treat for them.

Stylistically I think there is a sense of J K Rowling in the way we are drawn into the lives of the large Heap family (much like the Weasleys) and we even find that Bertie Bott has moved from making sweets to selling cloaks in this series of stories. However this is a totally fantastic world, where Magyk and Alchemie are part of everyday life.

A wonderful series for the dedicated 8 to 12 year old reader, although it can be enjoyed by older lovers of the genre. MP

While The Others Sleep HHH

Tom Becker, Scholastic 320pp, 978 1407109534 £6.99 pbk

It is 1897, the age of advancement in industry, technology and medicine. Lord Mandeville hopes that there is a cure for his 14 year old son Alfred’s intractable insomnia and sends him to Scarbrook House, where Dr Edmund Grenfell will, he prays, restore his son to a fit state to take his place as heir to his father’s fortune. Grenfell, however, has hidden his talents away behind drunkenness and admits Alfie only in order to receive a huge donation from his father which will ensure that the east wing of the sanatorium, destroyed in a fire, can be rebuilt if Alfie recovers.

Suspense, horror and intrigue are woven into the story from the start and the gloomy setting of the imposing building only adds to the atmosphere. There are echoes of Harry Potter in the Scrapers, malevolent half-men who come at night to find and remove the fiend who hides behind the exterior of an innocent boy. The alliance between Alfie and his friend William opens the door to a series of haunting adventures, described in graphic detail. Alfie seeks to save his beloved Selena, to whom he has been close since their families lived in India, but his attachment to her hides a deadly secret, one of which he and the reader are unaware until Becker shockingly twists the end of the book.

With this book, Angie Sage reaches the culmination of her story surrounding Septimus Heap and his large and fascinating family; as well as the amazing cast of characters that inhabit his world. Fyre is the seventh book in the series and the Fyre in question is produced by Alchemie and is required to destroy the ‘two-faced’ ring, in which are trapped two of the most evil wizards of all time.

Angie Sage has produced a brilliant finale to the sequence of books and many of the heroes find a satisfying conclusion to their stories (so far). For those who have not read all of the other books there is a problem in trying to play ‘catch up’, but the author gives enough clues and explanations for most people to become deeply involved in the current plot line.

The story is strong, the characters well drawn and sympathetic and the pace of the story keeps the young reader enthralled to

There are many characters in the book, which may cause a younger reader some problems in remembering names and pairing them with personalities. Although the narrative moves swiftly from one heightened moment to the next, the gore and grisly detail saturate it to such a degree that there is some danger of graphic overload and this is particularly true of the overwrought ending, which is difficult to believe and strips faith in the credibility of the characters.


The Disgrace of Kitty Grey HHH

Mary Hooper, Bloomsbury, 288pp, 978 1 4088 2981 3, £6.99

Mary Hooper is fast becoming the go-to name for reliable and well-informed teen historical fiction. Her writing is always clear and concise with stories that seem to champion characters that may well be ordinarily overlooked. Set during the time

28 Books for Keeps No.200 May 2013

of Austen, The Disgrace of Kitty Grey resists treading the same parlour rooms and manor house balls as Lizzie Bennett and co. for the more unusual tale of the trials and tribulations of an unfortunate milkmaid. Young Kitty is quite dedicated to her friendly Friesians and only agrees to go to London to pick up the latest Austen novel in the hope of seeing her sweetheart, Will. A series of incredibly unfortunate events see Kitty instantly ruined and the tragic days that follow lead her to a place that couldn’t be further from her green pastures of Devonshire. This is a quick and easy read, packed with genuinely interesting information on the period, that never feels weighed down by the amount of meticulously detailed research it so clearly requires. Mary Hooper’s books should be in every secondary school library in the country. KC

young people, ideally from the age of 12 upwards.


Monster Odyssey: The Eye Of Neptune


Jon Mayhew Bloomsbury, 256pp, 978-1-4088-2630-0. £6.99. pbk

This is the first of two books in The Monster Odyssey series which begins in 1810. The young Prince Dakkar, heir to an Indian kingdom, has been sent to England to be placed under the care of Count Oginski, a friend of his father’s and a gifted inventor. Dakkar, a rebellious and spirited child, has run away from the best schools and so it is Oginski who must teach him how to be a resourceful and compassionate leader of his people.

The Maleficent Seven HHH

Derek Landy, HarperCollins, 288pp, 9780007500925, £12.99, hbk

Skulduggery Pleasant

phenomenon in the world of children’s paranormal books. This book is a stand alone novel but centred around characters from the main series. The ‘heroine’ is Tanith Low, once on the side of good, but since her infection by a ‘Remnant’, now working against her former colleagues. The plot of the books is centred around her search for the for weapons known as ‘God-killers’, which are held by a variety of owners, none of whom wish to hand them over. Tanith put together a team of seven, featuring a range of talents from vampirism to cannibalism in order to outwit the owners and also a team from the ‘good’ side.

This will find a very faithful readership from the main series, and although it is difficult to maintain empathy with a character when they change sides, the author does achieve this. However with the introduction of the character Moribund, Derek Landy leaves us with the possibility of fighting the Remnant and not giving in to the dark side. It would help to have read the other books, but because of the nature of this story it is possible to come to the characters without prior knowledge and enjoy the book. This is full of action, as well as blood and gore, so not for the faint hearted; however it will be thoroughly enjoyed by large numbers of

is now a

The Eye of Neptune has all the requisite ingredients for a rip-roaring, page-turning adventure, rather like an adolescent James Bond story. There are, of course, spies and counter-spies, intent on capturing Oginski’s invention - the remarkable submersible, the Makara. When Oginski is captured by men - and sea-monsters - working for the evil Cryptos, in his attempt to take over the world, it is Dakkar who goes to his rescue. Along the way he acquires a feisty girl companion, the redoubtable Georgia, who proves herself the equal of all her male counterparts.

Throw in pirates, murderous giant squids, kidnap and cliff hangers aplenty and there is much to keep young readers of both sexes immersed in the story. There is a strong moral thread woven through the narrative, too - betrayal cannot be countenanced and oppressed creatures must be freed in order for the world to be a better place. This volume will hook in readers eager for the second in the series, published next year.

VR The Fate in the Box HHHH

Michelle Lovric, Orion, 352pp, 978 1 4440 0339 0, £9.99 hbk

Prolific doesn’t even come near it. Michelle Lovric has produced more than a hundred anthologies and gift books, selling over a million copies. There are adult novels, travel books, journalism, reviews. As you read this, her fourth book for young

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