Evernight by Ross MacKenzie

If you like your adventures dark and dangerous and your stories gory, this is  the book for you. Perfect for fans of the magic and story building of Harry Potter and the darkness of A.F. Harrold's The Imaginary. 

Evernight is dramatically written; crying out to be read aloud. It would be a great choice for teachers who want to share some magic with Key Stage 3 pupils. We were totally engrossed, although we did have to read some of the more macabre sections through our fingers!

With fantastic characters who come alive through strong, dramatic writing, this is a vivid and engaging story. This is a refreshing take on good versus evil, with the evil being deliciously dark and dangerous and the good being feisty yet powerless.

Evernight is hard to put down and harder to let go of. We can't wait to see what happens later in the series.

About the book:

Thousands of years ago, the Evernight came to the Silver Kingdom and turned everything to darkness and chaos. It was only defeated thanks to the skill and bravery of the Witches. But now the Evernight is about to return, released by the evil Mrs Hester, and the only spell that might stop it is lost, deep below the great city of King’s Haven.

Then orphan Larabelle Fox stumbles across a mysterious wooden box while treasure-hunting in the city’s sewers. Little does she realise she is about to be catapulted into an adventure, facing wild magic and mortal danger – and a man who casts no shadow . . .

Best for 11+ You can get your copy here.

Tiger Heart by Penny Chrimes

One magical friendship. One roaring adventure. The magical tale of a bold young chimney sweep and a remarkable tiger, a dangerously hypnotic ruby and a mystical land that’s found across an ocean and through a storm. Perfect for fans of The Girl of Ink and Stars and Pax.

Tiger Heart is a fierce historical fantasy where nothing is as it seems and magic can come from the most surprising of places. It is also deliciously dark; dealing with themes of capitalism, control and greed. A tale for our age, the nods to capitalist politics, child labour and animal welfare make this historical adventure all too relevant.

A fantastic story for children who enjoy their magic grounded in history with believable, authentic characters and a layer of worldly truth. We loved it!

About the book:

Fly never meant to end up in a cage with a man-eating tiger. And though she’s no princess, when the tiger bows to her, she can’t help vowing to free him and return him home. But the bird-filled jungles and cloud-topped mountains of the tiger’s homeland are an ocean away. And not everyone wants the tiger to return.

With dark and dangerous forces working against them, will Fly be able to fulfil her promises, keep them both alive and – just maybe – become the queen her tiger knows her to be?

You can get your copy here.

Explorers on Black Ice Bridge by Alex Bell

If you haven’t yet discovered Alex Bell’s extraordinary The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club series then you have a real adventure ahead of you and, quite frankly, we’re jealous that you get to experience the joys from the very beginning. Get on it now! The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club awaits:

The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club

Explorers on Witch Mountain

Those of you who have read the first two books are in for a treat with book three; Explorers on Black Ice Bridge. The team are back together and face a daring mission that combines all the storylines Alex Bell has been weaving through the first two books in the series. We meet snow queens, magical creatures, club rivalries, injustice, conservation, fierce friendship, and the flouting of many, many rules. There are wonderful new characters to meet and all the peril, excitement and universal truths we have come to expect from this outstanding series. Engaging and exciting, this is a truly magical series for explorers 9+

You can get your copy here.

The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty

Expect the unexpected in this fast-paced adventure full of wit and warmth. A mesmerising story, filled with magic and dragons, family and friendship, puzzles and spells. Startlingly good and packed with the most wonderful characters and hold-your-breath twists and turns, plus my very favourite fictional librarian, we couldn’t put it down. Guppy Publishing are fast becoming a firm favourite of ours. They have an eye for a fantastic story and we are so excited to see what they create next. Beautifully illustrated by Karl James Mountford, this is a stunning book that would make a perfect gift for the young adventurers in your life.

About the book:
Bronte Mettlestone is ten years old when her parents are killed by pirates. This does not bother her much: her parents ran away to have adventures when she was a baby. She has been raised by her Aunt Isabelle, with assistance from the Butler, and has spent a pleasant childhood of afternoon teas and riding lessons.

Now, however, her parents have left detailed instructions for Bronte in their will. (Instructions that, annoyingly, have been reinforced with faery cross-stitch, which means that if she doesn’t complete them, terrible things could happen) She must travel the kingdoms alone, delivering gifts to ten other aunts: a farmer aunt who owns an orange orchard, a veterinarian aunt who specializes in dragon care, a pair of aunts who captain a cruise ship, and a former rock star aunt who is now the reigning monarch of a small kingdom. But as she travels from aunt to aunt, Bronte suspects there might be more to this journey than the simple delivery of treasure; though little does she suspect that she will have to play such a big part in the extraordinary events that follow.

You can get your copy here.

Deeplight by Frances Hardinge

The gods of The Myriad were as real as the coastlines and currents, and as merciless as the winds and whirlpools. Now the gods are dead, but their remains are stirring beneath the waves…

On the streets of the Island of Lady’s Crave live 14-year-old street urchins Hark and his best friend Jelt. They are scavengers: diving for relics of the gods, desperate for anything they can sell.

But there is something dangerous in the deep waters of the undersea, calling to someone brave enough to retrieve it. When the waves try to claim Jelt, Hark will do anything to save him. Even if it means compromising not just who Jelt is, but what he is…

Deeplight by Frances Hardinge is a deliciously dark exploration of identity and how far you will go to be true to yourself. It is an exploration of religion and the damaging effects of power, as well as a celebration of the life-giving power of stories.

The best fantasy has strong links with reality and Deeplight explores the teenage experience of identity and the confusions and contradictions of life beautifully. Dealing with themes of power, manipulation, bullying and the trials of friendship, it is about learning who you are and fighting for your independence.

With all the mystery and adventure we have come to expect from Hardinge, Deeplight doesn’t disappoint.

You can order your copy here.

The Time of Green Magic by Hilary McKay

From acclaimed author and Costa winner Hilary McKay comes The Time of Green Magic: a beautiful, spell-binding novel about family, magic, an old house and a mysterious visitor…

Abi and her two step-brothers, Max and Louis, find that strange things happen when they are alone in their eerie, ivy-covered new house. Abi, reading alone, finds herself tumbling deep into books, while Louis summons a startling guest through his bedroom window.

Even Max has started to see shapes in the shadows . . . Their busy parents see none of it – but Louis’ secret visitor is growing too alarming to keep secret, and he finds he cannot manage without Max and Abi’s help. Can they find out where the mysterious creature has come from – and how to get it back there?

Hilary McKay writes family relationships beautifully and her characters are a joy to spend time with. She creates young children perfectly and Louis is alive and leaping from the page from his very first sentence. The Time of Green Magic has all McKay’s trademark warmth and wit and is a book that hugs you as you read it.

This is an enchanting story of a blended family coming together and muddling along through life as best they can. It is a celebration of the power and magic of reading and the strength of imagination. A masterclass in writing and an absolute delight to read.

Published 5th September by Pan Macmillan, you can order your copy here.

The Monster Who Wasn’t by T C Shelley

“A brilliantly rich and strange fantasy adventure that will make us all believe in monsters – be they good, bad or somewhere in between.

It is a well-known fact that fairies are born from a baby’s first laugh. What is not as well documented is how monsters come into being …

This is the story of a creature who is both strange and unique. When he hatches down in the vast underground lair where monsters dwell, he looks just like a human boy – much to the disgust of everyone watching. Even the grumpy gargoyles who adopt him and nickname him `Imp’ only want him to steal chocolate for them from the nearby shops.

He’s a child with feet in both worlds, and he doesn’t know where he fits. But little does Imp realise that Thunderguts, king of the ogres, has a great and dangerous destiny in mind for him, and he’ll stop at nothing to see it come to pass…”

Imaginative and unusual, this is an intriguing, compulsive read that will stay with you long after you close the covers. A story of magic and darkness, with lots of gothic elements and an exciting quest for belonging.

Brilliant for fans of Lorraine Gregory and those looking for something a little different. Best for 9+.

You can get your copy here.

The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson

They call me Yanka the Bear. Not because of where I was found – only a few people know about that. They call me Yanka the Bear because I am so big and strong.

Found abandoned in a bear cave as a baby, Yanka has always wondered about where she is from. She tries to ignore the strange whispers and looks from the villagers, wishing she was as strong on the inside as she is on the outside. But, when she has to flee her house, looking for answers about who she really is, a journey far beyond one that she ever imagined begins: from icy rivers to smouldering mountains meeting an ever-growing herd of extraordinary friends along the way.

Interwoven with traditional stories of bears, princesses and dragons, Yanka’s journey is a gorgeously lyrical adventure from the best-selling author of The House With Chicken Legs.

The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson is a beauty of a book about the pain of feeling different and the power of stories to help you find your way. It celebrates the comfort that comes from having stories told to you and explores the power of accepting help from your friends, forming a herd, a web of strength, and finding your tribe. It's a beautiful exploration of what makes a family.

Yanka is stubborn and determined and as bright and spirited as we have come to enjoy from Sophie Anderson's characters. Full of animals, folktales, family and friendship, we love this atmospheric adventure - and whooped at the links back to The House with Chicken Legs. 

Coming September 2019!

The Land of Roar by Jenny McLachlan and Ben Mantle

Believing is just the beginning . . .

When Arthur and Rose were little, they were heroes in the Land of Roar, an imaginary world that they found by climbing through the folding bed in their grandad’s attic.

Roar was filled with things they loved – dragons, mermaids, ninja wizards and adventure – as well as things that scared them (including a very creepy scarecrow. . .)

Now the twins are eleven, Roar is just a memory. But when they help Grandad clean out the attic, Arthur is horrified as Grandad is pulled into the folding bed and vanishes. Is he playing a joke? Or is Roar . . . real?

We love this stunner of a book. Beautifully illustrated by Ben Mantle and with a cover that would be coveted by the most fussy of dragons, The Land of Roar looks as beautiful on the outside as it is on the inside.

The Land of Roar is a story with a heart. Filled with dementor-style darkness, beautifully balanced with humour and brilliantly imagined gender-stereotype-flipping characters, it perfectly captures the imagination and play of children and explores what happens to your lands of make-believe when you begin to grow up. It celebrates embracing play and imagination and not growing up too soon.

All the ingredients for the perfect reading for pleasure fantasy adventure are here; ninja wizards, mermaid witches, a band of fierce lost girls, dragons and of course, a glittering sprinkle of magic. We lost ourselves entirely in The Land of Roar

Let your walls down and allow magic in. Get your copy here.

Book Review by Mia H: A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison

Three sisters trapped by an ancient curse. Three magical objects with the power to change their fate. Will they be enough to break the curse? Or will they lead the sisters even deeper into danger?

All whilst reading this book, I had an image in my heart of a little town surrounded by rocks beneath a cloudy grey sky with pale green waters lapping at the rocky beaches and an imposing tower rising above it all and casting long shadows on the street below. That is how I imagine Crowstone, where this story takes place. And at the centre of this town there is a rickety old tavern, where a girl with black hair warbles something very nearly reminiscent of a tune, another sits on the floor playing with bugs and rats and a third dreams about rocky mountains and humid, emerald jungles. Those are the Widdershins sisters. And that’s how clearly you can see them all as you read this book. The bond between the sisters in this book is what really makes it special, how they go to such lengths, risk their lives even, for each other. My favourite bits however were the ones with Sorsha, a girl that has a very different family dynamic and has to live with her magical abilities in a society that is not at all accepting of them and has it in for her right from the start. This book was gripping, and is one that you could read all in one day and still feel satisfied at the end. I would recommend this book for children aged 9+ or 8+ for more mature readers. It reminded me greatly of the Huntress trilogy, just because of the whole sea atmosphere of it and is overall thoroughly enjoyable.