Scareground by Angela Kecojevic, reviewed by Oliver (11)

Scareground is a book filled with suspense and mystery. Set in Victorian Britain we meet Nancy, a girl, who was adopted 12 years ago by her adoptive parents, the Crumpets. 

“A spine-chilling adventure full of danger and magic.”

Oliver (11)

She lives in Greenwich and has a best friend called Arthur Green – a child who was far more privileged than herself but who also has his own problems and fears.  

However, Nancy’s whole life changes when a fair comes to town. Who are her real parents and why was she left abandoned in the park 12 years ago?

Determined to find out her past histories, Nancy becomes involved in a spine-chilling adventure full of danger and magic.  A fantastic story from start to finish – a perfect book for a child aged 10 to 12 years who enjoys a spooky read.

Fablehouse by E.L.Norry, reviewed by Niamh (10)

Fablehouse is a brand-new gripping middle-grade series by E.L. Norry. She’s already known for writing fantastic stories that tell the untold tales of black children in history and her first book, Son of the Circus, was previously shortlisted for the Diverse Book Awards. 

Set in a children’s home for ‘Brown Babies’, mixed-race children born to black US army soldiers and white British mothers after the Second World War, the story follows Heather and her friends as they fight evil fae and stop everyone living in Fablehouse from being replaced by changelings.  

Fablehouse draws on E.L. Norry’s own personal experiences as a mixed-race child growing up in the care system in Cardiff, although we don’t know if she was battling fae during her childhood!

Niamh (10)

After they help injured Palamedes (also known as Pal), a black knight who served King Arthur, they are tasked with the quest to prevent his old friend, ‘The Champion’, from leading the fae to take control over the whole world!

I loved this book! It deals with real-life serious issues, while also telling a magical, exciting adventure story. I couldn’t put the book down after the changelings began to appear, which were fae left in the place of children living in the care home that talked in a low, threatening hissed voices.

Fablehouse draws on E.L. Norry’s own personal experiences as a mixed-race child growing up in the care system in Cardiff, although we don’t know if she was battling fae during her childhood! I was furious at the horrible way the local children treated Heather and friends in the book because they were mixed-race. 

I recommend this book to anyone who likes adventure, folklore, magic and wants to learn more about the experiences of mixed-race children born post-WW2. I’m delighted there will be more books in this series and I can’t wait to find out what happens Heather and her friends next. 

I’ve got tickets to see E.L. Norry, Lizzie Huxley-Jones and Ross Montgomery at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this summer and I can’t wait to tell them all in-person how much I love their books! 

Perfect for fans of: Vivi Conway & The Sword of Legend by Lizzie Huxley-Jones; and The Chime Seekers by Ross Montgomery 

The Magic Hour by David Wolstencroft, reviewed by Aysha (12)

It all starts with a girl called Ailsa Craig who was late for everything! She had very poor time management and was often caught daydreaming.

“I really loved the idea of the book. In fact, I’ve never read a book like it.”

Aysha (12)

Entirely different to Ailsa was a girl called Credenza who had everything prepared, it was almost like she had an extra hour. What would happen if she did?

Imagine being able to walk into your shed, a portal to Old Edinburgh and get an extra hour to complete tasks, yet arrive back in the real world at the time you left.

I really loved the idea of the book. In fact, I’ve never read a book like it. It kept me guessing about what would happen right until the very end which I really enjoyed. 

Villains Academy by Ryan Hammond, reviewed by Evie M. (10)

Dear Readers,

Read this book if you want to learn how to be a true villain! This story is about a bunch of mischievous misfits who dream of being a villainous villain!

My favourite character is…

Mona and Sheila, as they were both favourable characters; Sheila plays pranks and jokes on people and Mona wants to be the leader of the pack although in the end she becomes the truest friend.

My favourite part is when…

They all become besets of friends and Bram feels that he has a place there.

The illustrations were awesome!

Who will get villain of the week?

Witchstorm by Tim Tilley, reviewed by Aysha (12)

I think Witchstorm is an amazing book that everyone should read!

It has good and bad witches, magical places, friendships and a treasure hunt.

“I absolutely loved this book . . . It made me desperate to read another Witch book.”

Aysha (12)

One day Will awakes to find his Ma missing. Curiously, he looks around and discovers Agatha’s amulet. Agatha is a witch that died a thousand years ago but before she died she made stormstone that controls all the elements. Will meets a witch called Magma, will she help Will find his Ma?

I absolutely loved this book. I thought it was well thought out and detailed and the illustrations were fantastic. It made me desperate to read another Witch book. I can’t choose which character was my favourite but it would be between Will and Aunt Hera. I loved how Aunt Hera loved sword fighting and was a really fun aunt to be around. For Will, I loved his skills in solving mysteries and I was very impressed with how dedicated he was in his search for his Ma.

I would recommend this book for ages 11 upwards.

Peanut Jones and The Twelve Portals by Rob Biddulph, reviewed by Aysha (11)

Peanut Jones, her friend Rockwell, her sister Little Bit and the pencil that can make drawings come to life go on their second adventure. This time to try and stop Mr White (the baddie) from making the world and the illustrated city colourless and also to try and get famous paintings back after they had mysteriously disintegrated.

I loved this book because it had lots of beautiful illustrations on each page.

Aysha (11)

I loved this book because it had lots of beautiful illustrations on each page. It was exciting to read and nerve-wracking too! This would make a great gift to get with Christmas coming up!

Which Way to Anywhere by Cressida Cowell, reviewed by Evie M (9)

How long can you hold your breath? 

This is a story out of this world… it is dazzling and dangerous, 

come with me if you dare through the Which Way to anywhere!

What is the story about?

This intriguing story is about two thirteen year old twins called Izzabird and K2 O’hero. Their father had mysteriously gone missing when they were little. They have two stepsisters and a stepbrother, called Theo and Mabel, who they don’t like very much and a baby sister Annipeck. Their mother and aunts have magic powers and K2 discovers that he also has a gift that means he can draw maps to other strange universes when he places a cross in the middle of a piece of paper. The cross is a ‘Which Way’ and acts as a gateway to access other planets. 

“The best bit was when Horizabel, full of grace, appears from out of the washing machine with adorable Blinkers her robot!”

Evie M (9)

The adventure really begins when a stranger knocks on the door of their washing machine, a fearsome robot storms their house to destroy them and their baby sister Annipeck is snatched by an evil pirate named Cyril. They are forced to slice an ‘X’ in the air of their world to create a ‘Which Way’ portal to travel through to save their sister by working together and maybe even Everest, the father of Izzabird and K2! They also make new friends on the way including a cheeky robot named Puck and the beautiful, talented Horizabel, but is she really a friend?

My personal favourite character

Horizabel because she is the storyteller of the book and is pretty. She also seems to be good but really… Horizabel is quite fascinating and by far has the best clothing. (Cressida Cowell well done!)

If you liked these books you will love this story too!

Harry Potter or The Magic Faraway Tree then you would love this!

Best bit…

My favourite part was where baby Anniepeck is kidnapped by evil Cyril and when Horizabel, full of grace, appears from out of the washing machine with adorable Blinkers her robot!

The Strangeworlds Travel Agency: The Secrets of the Stormforest : Book 3 by L.D.Lapinski, reviewed by Leontine (11)

The epic final of The Strangeworlds Travel Agency was an amazing book, packed full of adventure, magic and courage. I really enjoyed reading this book and once I started I couldn’t stop reading it.

Flick is really powerful, strong and courageous.

Leontine (11)

The secrets of stormforest are all about Flick and her friends stopping an evil danger from stealing magic. Flick is really powerful, strong and courageous. Together Flick and her friends are unstoppable.

Tristyan is my favourite character because he’s really wise, brave and prepared to do anything to protect his friends and family.

I really liked this book and would recommend this book to all magic lovers.

Unraveller by Frances Hardinge, reviewed by Farrah (16)

Unraveller is a vivid and delightful fantasy novel, which had me gripped from the very first chapter. Featuring Kellen, an unraveller of curses, and Nettle, an individual whose curse was unravelled by Kellen, we follow these characters as they are joined by unlikely allies in a journey to uncover the conspiracy surrounding a band of fugitive cursers. Along the way they travel through the alluring and vibrantly depicted locations of Mizzleport, the Shallow and the Deep Wilds.

It will certainly go down as one of my favourite stories of the year.

Farrah (16)

Covering a variety of topics in this expertly crafted fantasy, this is a book which you will find yourself unable to put down. I loved the vast cast of characters, and the incredible set-up of this fantastical world and its ‘magic system’. From the fearsome creatures inhabiting the Wilds, to the victims of strange curses and their seemingly formidable cursers, these are characters who’s escapades are a joy to read. Nettle’s quiet compassion and Kellen’s vivacious lust for adventure (and often the danger that accompanies it) are enchantingly written.

Lover of the fantasy genre or not, the lyrical writing and engaging characters will entice you in from the get-go. I would highly recommend this book to a large variety of age groups, and it will certainly go down as one of my favourite stories of the year.

The Thief Who Sang Storms by Sophie Anderson, Reviewed by Aysha (11)

The Thief Who Sang Storms is a great book written by Sophie Anderson. 

It contains magic, creativity, teamwork and most of all love (but not the romance kind).

I love how this book has lots of flashbacks so you can understand the back story too

Aysha (11)

It’s all about a bird girl called Linnet and her Island of Morovia, which is now divided into areas where humans live and a swamp area where all the bird people now reside, after something drastic happened. 

The bird people formed a group called the Unity Movement who have been trying to take down Captain Ilya who separated the bird people from humans for ‘safety’ after what happened. When Linnet’s father, Nightingale, gets caught by the bogatyrs (Captain IIya’s troops), Linnet realises she needs to do something. 

She teams up with humans to help stop this nonsense, but can she do it?

I love how this book has lots of flashbacks so you can understand the back story too.