No catches, no fine print just unconditional book loving for your children with their favourites saved to their own digital bookshelf.
New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop plus lots lots more...Find out more
Find the latest books for fans of fantasy stories and magical tales! We have extracts to download for most of our books plus expert reviews.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2021 | September 2021 Book of the Month | Award-winning author Philip Reeve is gifted at creating alternative worlds which feel both comfortingly familiar and thrillingly new and original. The watery landscape of the Autumn Isles does just that providing the backdrop for a gutsy and gusty story of powerful old magic, new-fangled science and the perennial battle for the critical balance of power between land and the sea. It is the setting for a roller coaster of a story with the survival of orphaned Utterly Dark, one of the most charming and feisty young heroines, at its heart. Washed up on the shore of the Autumn Isles, Utterly is rescued and adopted by Andrew Dark, the Watcher of Wildsea, whose job it is to keep the islands safe from the many dangers forces that threaten the land, in particular, the terrifying Gorm, a fearful sea dwelling creature who threatens the life of the Islanders. When her guardian drowns in curious circumstances, Utterly must maintain the watch until a new Watcher arrives. But the new Watcher is sceptical of the old magic until his rash actions reveal the full power of the Gorm with almost fatal results. Can Utterly set the watery world of her home to rights?
Marnie Blue is shocked when lots of plastic rubbish starts to appear in Mermaid Lagoon. It's causing all sorts of problems and even harming the underwater animals. Marnie and her friends decide enough is enough and they must have a big green clean-up. But just where is all the plastic coming from? With the help of the local Brinies group, a new dolphin pal and a human friend, the mermaids come up with a plan to rid the lagoon of plastic junk for good.
September 2021 Debut of the Month | In this murky world Lester and Rita become detectives for hire. Their first case involves two vampires, a stolen jade mask and a baron mysteriously drowned in vat of lemonade. Rita and Lester will need to learn fast if they want to survive in a world where appearances are endlessly deceptive.
Turn on your torches and join Aveline Jones! Aveline is thrilled when she discovers that the holiday cottage her mum has rented for the summer is beside a stone circle. Thousands of years old, the local villagers refer to the ancient structure as the Witch Stones, and Aveline cannot wait to learn more about them. Then Aveline meets Hazel. Impossibly cool, mysterious yet friendly, Aveline soon falls under Hazel's spell. In fact, Hazel is quite unlike anyone Aveline has ever met before, but she can't work out why. Will Aveline discover the truth about Hazel, before it's too late? Join the world of Aveline Jones, where mysteries are solved, spirits are laid to rest, and everybody gets to bed on time.
Reeling with romance, rebellion and a feverish sense of doing the right thing, Brigid Kemmerer’s Defy the Night melds magic with political struggles to create a fast-paced, fantasy epic fronted by an indomitable young female apothecary. Tessa Cade and handsome, enigmatic Weston are the Robin Hoods of their corrupt kingdom, a realm that’s brutally governed by King Harristan and his brother Prince Corrick; a realm in which only the richest can afford a cure for the disease that’s blighting their subjects. As a result, Tessa and Weston rob food and medicine from the rich to distribute to the poor, but Tessa is quick to realise that the only long-term way to end this unfair situation is to kill the king. Cue a high-stakes voyage to the kingdom’s dark core and a whole lot of soul-searching, plus plenty of heady romance. With whip-smart world-building and a cast of vibrant characters, this is a novel fans of Sarah J Maas and Cassandra Clare will devour.
Kids are always being told that if they ‘dream their dreams’ one day those dreams will come true. ‘Living the dream’ is a very different experience for 11-going-on-12-year-old Malky in Ross Welford’s absorbing, vastly entertaining novel. Blackmailed into a bungled burglary, Malky becomes owner of a set of Dreaminators, mysterious machines that make dream worlds real and give the dreamer powers to control them. At first, Malky and his co-dreamer, little brother Seb, enjoy their night-time adventures, especially those in a Stone Age world closely based on Seb’s favourite storybook where they make friends, go hunting, and Seb has high hopes of riding a mammoth. If it seems too good to be true, of course it is, and as Malky’s ability to control what’s happening in his dreams weakens, everything – awake or asleep – starts to go wrong. When Seb is taken prisoner in a dream and falls into a life-threatening coma in real life, Malky has to face up to his responsibilities, not to mention the fears and anger his dreams have disguised, in one last terrifying dream. At least he has new friends there to help. The story is cleverly told and plotted, moving back and forward in time, from dream to reality, with Doctor Who ease. It’s full of humour too, e.g. a wonderful scene in the school canteen in which Malky does all the things he’s always dreamed of doing, not realising he’s actually awake. Core too are the really big things in life – friendship, love, family, learning about yourself and understanding others. It’s a book that delights in the fact that the inside of our head is bigger far than the outside. Readers who enjoy Welford’s excellent books will also race through Christopher Edge’s out-of-this world adventures.
September 2021 Debut of the Month | Alston is a debut author who looked in vain for a hero or heroine who looked like him in fantasy novels – and this delivers and so much more too. Amari is a child who attends a posh school on a scholarship – but really finds it hard to fit in and avoid the bullies. Her mother is a hard-working health worker, and her brother Quinton is missing – his disappearance seems be the root of Amari’s difficulties. As the holidays approach Amari receives an invitation via a mysterious messenger to be considered for something (at this stage unexplained) – by attending an interview. From here on the story becomes a hugely imaginative, funny and compelling adventure. Magic and mystery flow thick and fast from this point on – as Amari takes her chances to prove herself and to start finding out what happened to her brother. The story takes you through the development of some close and lasting friendships, against some awful magical bullies and monsters, to an exciting and nail-biting adventurous conclusion, though it leaves a possible opening for more books about Amari in future. A wonderful fun adventure addition to every child's bookshelf and any school library looking for more representation across all it’s genres.
Michelle Paver has done it again in the eighth book in her epic, emotional Chronicles of Ancient Darkness Stone Age series that began with Wolf Brother. Skin Taker reels with a rollercoaster sense of adventure, shadowy atmosphere and an infectious spirit of survival as Torak, Renn and Wolf must find new ways to exist during the midwinter Dark Time, when new dangers are awoken and devastation looms. Torak remains the brave, brash protagonist readers have long known and admired, yet his character has been deftly developed too, and he’s here presented with fierce challenges - and responses - that befit his experiences. Though its setting is aeons ago, and though Torak’s world is suffused in otherworldly spirit magic, Paver has a remarkable skill for making her stories richly relatable. The emotional dilemmas and relationships have resonance; the detail and atmosphere of the natural world are truly tangible, and what an exhilarating immersion in the wild this offers adventure-seeking readers. Read a Q&A with Michelle Paver about Viper's Daughter, as she returned to the Wolf Brother series after over a decade.
September 2021 Book of the Month | On the eve of Ghastly Night, a hypnotic stage magician, Caliastra, checks in to Eerie-on-Sea’s Grand Nautilus Hotel. She’s arrived with her entourage to put on a show – and she claims to be related to Herbert Lemon. Caliastra’s act is so shadowy and strange that Herbie’s friend Violet wonders if dark forces are at work, but Herbie won’t hear a word said against his new relation.
Book Band: Dark Red (Ideal for ages 10+) | Having read The Tempest as a pupil and taught it to KS2 pupils, I wish we had had this as an introduction. It is beautifully retold, with just the right amount of traditional language to make the young reader feel they are truly tackling Shakespeare. From the very beginning, the writing is atmospheric and descriptive. Ariel immediately gets the reader drawn in, filling them in on the plot so far and making them part of the evolving story. The characters are richly described, and the complex plots carefully explained. There are so many elements to this story, the love story between Miranda and Ferdinand and the murderous plots of their parents. It is also a story of revenge, trickery, and magic. By including the reader in the story, by such questions as ‘do you know what is? Do you remember, and have you ever wondered’ the writer manages to pull the reader in as a conspirator. This is cleverly and successfully done. Ariel’s mischievous character makes the story fun and lively. The tricks played on Trinculo and Stephano and the way the invisibility cloak is used are all themes that appeal to children. Despite it being a fun and exciting piece of writing the author also manages to write about the feelings of the characters in addition to writing so descriptively. There is so much to discuss and to develop into further reading and writing tasks. There is a lot more here than just a good story.
Genna has always been good at history but the strange connection she has with times gone by turns into something terrifying when she becomes the victim of a series of assaults, each linked to violent moments from the past. Who is Damien, the young man determined to kill her, and who is Phoenix, the boy equally prepared to save her life? As the attacks continue Genna discovers that she is a First Ascendant, born at the dawn of mankind, with hundreds of lives already lived, and that this makes her the target of the evil Incarnates who won’t rest ‘til she is dead forever. As she and Phoenix fight to survive, and thereby save the human race, the action comes satisfyingly thick and fast, often staged in thrillingly described historical scenes. Few authors know more about pace, combat and all-out excitement than Bradford (Bodyguard, Young Samurai) and this will delight his legions of fans, and even more besides.
A magical, beautifully illustrated picture book about what it means to be a friend. Little Witchling lives alone in her mountain top and more than anything else, she wishes for a friend. So, when her spell-book tells her that the secret ingredient is the fur from a little girl's favourite teddy, she knows what she must do. But the teddy belongs to Lilly, who can't bear to part with him. Will Little Witchling give up her dream of a real friend? Or just maybe, is there a way for her and Lilly to make the wish come true, together? With a heartwarming rhyming text and breathtaking illustrations from Sarah Massini, this magical friendship story is perfect for little witches everywhere!
From the creator of the Mortal Instruments series and Infernal Devices trilogy comes this epic first instalment of the author’s highly anticipated The Dark Artifices series. Lady Midnight is populated with pretty much every kind of mythological and supernatural being you could wish for (witches, warlocks, werewolves, vampires, faeries to name a few), but none more intriguing than the Nephilim Shadowhunters, part-angel, part-human beings who adorn themselves with protective runes. Emma Carstairs is a Shadowhunter and, as such, she’s bound to her parabatai platonic soul mate Julian for life. Emma is also set on avenging her parents’ death. Then, when bodies bearing the same marks as those on her parents’ are found in her home city of Los Angeles, Emma’s search for their murderer leads her down all kinds of treacherously demonic paths. Clare has a real talent for creating richly-realised fantasy worlds and plummeting her gutsy, larger-than-life protagonists into seriously high-stakes situations. This is a hugely entertaining and expansive start to her new series, with more glamour that you can shake a stele stick at, and more than enough intrigue to keep forum threads spinning furiously as fans await book two. Take a look at our Ambassador Book Buzz for The Dark Artifices.
This gorgeously imagined YA debut blends shades of Neil Gaiman's Stardust and a breathtaking landscape of Hindu mythology into a radiant contemporary fantasy. The daughter of a star and a mortal, Sheetal is used to keeping secrets. Pretending to be normal. But when an accidental flare of her starfire puts her human father in the hospital, Sheetal needs a full star's help to heal him. A star like her mother, who returned to the sky long ago. Sheetal's quest to save her father will take her to a celestial court of shining wonders and dark shadows, where she must take the stage as her family's champion in a competition to decide the next ruling house of the heavens-and win, or risk never returning to Earth at all. Brimming with celestial intrigue, this sparkling YA debut is perfect for fans of Roshani Chokshi and Laini Taylor.
‘Eudora Space Kid: The Great Engine Room Takeover’ by David Horn is an exciting space adventure with Math and Science at its heart. Eudora loves maths and science and is always wanting to use them to engineer new and exciting things on her home space-ship, Athena. Alongside the adventures (and trouble) that Eudora gets into while experimenting on the Athena, the story also focuses on honesty and responsibility. I think this is an entertaining space adventure that would appeal to 7-9 year olds. I liked that the main character of this STEM led story is a girl and I think these types of stories will help young girls reading them to feel more confident about being interested in maths and science. This is the first of a new series. I think young readers will find it entertaining and will enjoy the conversational and highly descriptive writing as well as the friendly and appealing illustrations. ‘Eudora Space Kid’ is the beginning of a fun sci-fi adventure series that will have wide appeal to younger readers. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Book Band: Brown- (Ideal for ages 7+) | This is a lovely retelling of a famous myth. It tells the story of Icarus and his father who are prisoners on the island of Crete. Although it is set in Ancient Greece, the relationship and obvious love of the father and son shine through in quite a modern way. Both characters have their frustrations over their plight, yet they are both sensitive to the feelings of the other. It is a good adventure story where the two characters deal with setbacks in their quest for freedom – their attempts at boat building and their construction of the birds’ wings. Unlike many books for young children there is a sad ending which somehow makes it more poignant. There are lots of things to discuss in this book with some useful questions in the ‘quiz time’ at the back. I think the book would also benefit from a simple map to show where Crete is and also a guide to how to pronounce the characters names. Daedalus and Pasiphae are challenging for the adult too! A super book and a great introduction into Greek Mythology
‘Cry of the Norwolf’ by Ian Young is an interesting adventure series that I think will have wide appeal among middle grade readers. Arkyn, a ten year old boy has his world transformed when he stumbles across an injured norwolf pup. A predator that’s the stuff of fear and folklore, Arkyn’s path will change forever if he chooses to help the injured animal instead of killing it. A new fantasy series that is set in a more primitive world than our own, I found ‘Cry of the Norwolf’ really easy to follow and I thought that the story flowed well. The plotline moves quickly which I think will keep readers entertained and eager to know what comes next in the book and in later books in the series. The black and white illustrations at the start of each chapter are clean and detailed. As a personal preference I would have considered having more chapters to include more of these header illustrations instead of the asterisk dividers. However, the more flowing structure of the book does add to its fast pace and encourages the reader to keep going and see what happens next. ‘Cry of the Norwolf’ is a really entertaining read that I think would have broad appeal, especially to readers of Michelle Paver’s Wolf Brother series. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Young Herbert Lemon has an honest heart and that matters a lot in Thomas Taylor’s story of magic and mystery. Herbert lives in the Grand Nautilus Hotel in the seaside town of Eerie. The hotel is right on the sea front and the mist that rolls in could be hiding all sorts of things, even the scaly Malamander, subject of so many town legends. Helping his new friend Violet find clues to the whereabouts of her missing parents – Herbert is a lost and found expert – results in the two children coming closer to the Malamander than they could ever have expected. Eerie is a wonderfully edgy place, strange, gothic and inhabited by some singular people, and Herbert and Violet’s adventures are equally unique and totally enthralling.
A curious girl is eager to explore the new activity in her home. ‘Naji and the Mystery of the Dig’ by Vahid Imani is a lovely story of an inquisitive and imaginative Naji, eager to learn more about the giant hole that’s being dug in the courtyard of her family home. This is a very eventful day for Naji and her family, with plenty of tasks and chores to be done. But all Naji wants to do is learn more about the hole that’s being dug outside. Switching from curiosity to fear of monsters and Looloo, mythical creatures that lay in wait to snatch away children, Naji’s duty takes us through her day to day life at her home in the Iranian capital city of Tehran, and her speculation about what can be found in the murky depths of the washing pool or the new hole that’s being dug. I loved all of the cultural details throughout the book, young readers may be able to see themselves represented by Naji and her family, and the story provides insight into the daily practices of Islam and details about Iranian culture. Naji is universally lovable, displaying a curiosity, fear of the unknown and love of the ice cream man that all children will be able to identify with. In all, a really nice story driven by a young girl's curiosity and imagination. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
A book about finding hope in the darkest of times | An extraordinary, powerful, and important book, based on the true story of how Liz Kessler’s father escaped from Nazi-occupied Europe thanks to a British couple his family had met once. But what elevates this book about three friends and their different fates in World War Two is the story of Max, the nice, ordinary boy who gradually becomes seduced into hatred and prejudice. The ringing question, ‘What would I do under these circumstances?’ echoes on every page. ~ Francesca Simon
Jessie Burton’s fiery feminist re-telling of the Greek myth of Medusa blazes with intrigue and beauty courtesy of author’s elegant style and Olivia Lomenech Gill’s fabulously evocative colour illustrations. It’s an incredible feat of intellect and imagination that takes down toxic masculinity and victim-blaming culture through an ingenious reframing, reclaiming of Medusa. The gods have exiled Medusa to a remote island, with no one for company but the snakes she has for hair. That is, until impossibly beautiful Perseus arrives and transfixes her: “I know a lot about beauty. Too much in fact. But I’d never seen anything like him…I wanted to eat him up like honey cake.” Desires awoken, Medusa won’t reveal her name, or let him see her: “I was just going to sit on the other side of this entrance rock and pretend that boys like him washed up on desert islands all the time.” This excerpt encapsulates one of the many marvellous things about this book. The writing - cleverly, and compellingly - feels both timeless and modern. Medusa’s narrative, and the dialogue, is laced with wit, and infused with tremendous detail. But betrayal swoops in the wake of desire, and all-too familiar mechanisms of patriarchy come into play with ferocity. Ultimately, though, and with a magnificent sense of sisterhood, Medusa comes to a new state of being: “Self-awareness is a great banisher of loneliness. And my sisters, the immortals, are with me.” This is terrifically inspiring and empowering in the ways of timeless myths, but also in ways that are very, very real - “you will find me when you need me, when the wind hears a woman’s cry and fills my sails forward. And I will whisper on the water that one must never fear the raised shield, the reflection caught in an office window, or the mirror in a bathroom.”
Shortlisted for the 2021 Branford Boase Award | A gobble-it-up fiery and intense yet thoughtful debut novel about family, betrayal, and witchcraft. Opening the pathway to a fabulous historical fantasy series this calls out as a must-read for young adults. Set during the civil war in 17th century England, 15 year old Evey has to flee with her little sister Dill when her mother is murdered. As with all good young adult novels, it is perfectly easy to slide into and really enjoy as an adult too, particularly with the wonderful cover drawing you in. Touching history, it flies into fantasy, as author Finbar Hawkins examines the meaning of witch. Evey is a complex character and as she tells her own story she has the ability of self-reflection, even if she doesn’t always like what she sees. Witch is a read that fair on crackles with energy, it also encourages thoughts to both consider and soar and deservedly sits as one of our LoveReading debuts of the month.
Farr is a master storyteller as evidenced by his phenomenally successful screenwriting and directing for the stage. This is evident in the confidence with which he controls all the elements in this complex, engrossing fantasy thriller – his first novel for a child audience. Rachel and Robert live in a dictatorship in Brava that makes life very drab and humdrum – as well as very dangerous. Their father is a librarian – and on Rachel’s birthday he involves them in the theft of an important and forbidden book from the precious books room in the city library. For that theft he is captured – leaving the siblings with their ailing mother. When she dies it is planned that they will be separated into different parts of the grim orphanage that exists. Can they escape that fate, find out the secret of the book they keep hidden and keep it out of evil dictator Malstain’s hands? Meeting a wonderful cast of characters along the way – some good, some bad – they set off on individual journeys across the land to escape Malstain’s reach. This is a rich story, full of adventure, peril, and huge bravery from the children and many of the other characters, as well as awful evil. It will keep readers engaged and probably reading long after bedtime and lights out! Inspired by Farr’s great Aunt and Uncle’s escape from Nazi Germany this adventure is set in a timeless world that could be anywhere so that it will chime with children the world over. I hope Farr goes on to write more for children if this, his debut, is anything to go by.
Lily, our heroine, got sick a while ago, and now she just wants things to go back to how they were. This is complicated by the fact that Lily’s parents are just about to have another baby, so Lily is sent to her grandmothers to live whilst the baby arrives. Lily will not stay – and runs back home to find her parents have been replaced. Lily has one night to defeat the replacements and find her parents again – and make everything ‘right’. In this she is helped by some fascinating animal companions – Mouse, Mole, Crow and Snake have a wonderful humour, as well as providing the magic needed in every child’s story. Written with reference to our folk tale past – where talking animals often represent elements of human character, this is a delightful story you want to devour again and again. The story is supported and enhanced with Gravett’s dark illustrations; the writing is so visual the illustrations would be hugely missed. Gravett has used shadow and greyscale to create the wonderful characters, and an atmosphere that just oozes off the page as we read. This is the work of two masters of their arts – both can create wonderful reading experiences but joining them together makes for an unforgettable book that will find its way into many small hands now and long into the future.
Twelve is a Huntling, in training to become a Hunter and pledged to serve the seven clans as a warrior. Full of rage and guilt following the massacre of her family and neighbours, she is determined to remain friendless and dedicate herself to revenge. But when the Hunting Lodge is attacked by goblins, and other creatures even worse, and Seven, the only person she has any connection with, is kidnapped, Twelve sets out to rescue the little girl. She’s joined on the quest by Dog, the Lodge’s huge, living stone guardian, and by the two boys she likes least. Together they face multiple dangers and an array of terrifying and tricky monsters. As in the best of these sorts of adventures – and this is definitely an example of the best of these kind of adventures – throughout their trials they learn more about each other and themselves. Aisling Fowling’s debut is a thrilling fantasy full of battles and creatures the like of which you’ve never seen before, and stars characters you’ll regard as friends by the book’s end. There will be more adventures for Twelve and co to come, and readers will be counting down the days to the next. One to recommend to fans of A Clock of Stars by Francesca Gibbons and Orphans of the Tide by Struan Murray.
Harold Philip Snipperpot is turning seven years old. He's never had a real birthday party. His parents are too grumpy. But this year is going to be different. Thanks to an amazing man named Mr. Ponzio, something incredible is going to happen on Harold's birthday - and it's going to be absolutely extraordinary. Full of surprises, every animal imaginable, and magical moments galore, Harold Snipperpot's Best Disaster Ever is a rumbustious exploration of the ways in which good things can emerge from disaster.
Book Band: Dark Blue (Ideal for ages 9+) | An inspiring fantasy story from Katya Balen, author of The Space We're In and October, October. Margot wants her parents to take her birdwatching like they promised but they're too busy and she ends up at the zoo with her auntie and her annoying cousins. There, she sees a strange bird and takes one of its beautiful silver feathers home. Little does she know, that this is the start of a magical adventure in the moonlight... This magical story features black-and-white illustrations by Pham Quang Phuc.
It's here! Number one bestselling author Stephenie Meyer makes a triumphant return to the world of Twilight with this highly-anticipated companion; the iconic love story of Bella and Edward told from the vampire's point of view. When Edward Cullen and Bella Swan met in Twilight, an iconic love story was born. But until now, fans have heard only Bella's side of the story. At last, readers can experience Edward's version in the long-awaited companion novel, Midnight Sun. This unforgettable tale as told through Edward's eyes takes on a new and decidedly dark twist. Meeting Bella is both the most unnerving and intriguing event he has experienced in all his years as a vampire. As we learn more fascinating details about Edward's past and the complexity of his inner thoughts, we understand why this is the defining struggle of his life. How can he justify following his heart if it means leading Bella into danger? In Midnight Sun, Stephenie Meyer transports us back to a world that has captivated millions of readers and brings us an epic novel about the profound pleasures and devastating consequences of immortal love.
The hotly anticipated epic and phenomenal West-African inspired finale to the New York Times bestselling YA fantasy Raybearer. For the first time, an Empress Redemptor sits on Aritsar's throne. To appease the sinister spirits of the dead, Tarisai must now anoint a council of her own, coming into her full power as a Raybearer. She must then descend into the Underworld, a sacrifice to end all future atrocities. Tarisai is determined to survive. Or at least, that's what she tells her increasingly distant circle of friends. Months into her shaky reign as empress, child spirits haunt her, demanding that she pay for past sins of the empire. With the lives of her loved ones on the line, assassination attempts from unknown quarters, and a handsome new stranger she can't quite trust, Tarisai fears the pressure may consume her. In this finale to the RAYBEARER duology, Tarisai must learn whether to die for justice . . . or to live for it.
Check out the latest activities in our KidsZone.