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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 high-stakes quest. A magical kingdom. A boy in possession of a coveted power. This mythology-rich novel for 10+ year-olds has all the ingredients of an epic adventure. Ankido is a twelve-year-old British-Iraqi boy with a passion for words. So much so, his beloved grandmother calls him her “Word Boy”. One morning, his grandmother announces the terrible news that Ankido’s father, an eminent archaeologist, has gone missing on a field trip in Iraq. When she leaves to search for his dad, she entrusts him with a special book: “The cover was made of fine, gold-inlaid leather. The title read, The Land of Mesopo. Ankido wondered why it was so special but thought it best not to ask.” Left with his aunt and uncle, Ankido is destined to be sent to boarding school, but not before he’s forced to burn Grandmother’s special book when his aunt tries to take it from him. He knows the book is special - “When I started reading it, it felt so real. Almost as if it was calling me to step inside “ – and indeed it does turn out to be special. Rather than end up at boarding school, he finds himself in the Library of Nineveh after being pursued by “a creature of the dark” who “feeds on words. And she knows that you can make your own words.” Ankido’s quest to find his father, and to save the fantastical word-world of Mesopo as the Kingdom’s newfound Tale Smith is sharply evoked, and packed with heart-pounding peril, mysterious atmosphere and intriguing characters, among them scribes, princes and magicians. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
'The Adventures of Tempus and Fugit' by Tom McCulloch is a fun and informative story in pictures, telling us about two young boys, Tempus and Fugit, (who look and act older than their stated ages) who live in an unspecified time in the future with their personal robot, Digi Dog. In this short adventure, Digi Dog builds the boys a time-travelling air balloon and they all set off first for Ancient Egypt then Ancient Rome. Their aim is to find out more about how time was measured in those far off times. In Egypt, they are introduced to the sundial and in Rome, the water clock. The illustrations are very colourful and have the modern feel of a graphic novel, though the author doesn't make use of speech bubbles, and I think it works very well in imparting the basics of these two types of time measurement in ancient civilisations in an effortless way. I would have loved more detail about each of the timepieces but readers who have their curiosity aroused can easily find out more and may even be inspired to make their own 'clocks'. Drena Irish, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
The Dark is Rising Sequence | This is part of a brilliant and award-winning fantasy sequence. It's a book that grips you from the start and will transport you from your earth world to a world of fantasy. The characters are brilliantly imagined and the fantasy world so realistically described that you feel you're there. It's midwinter and Will Stanton, the seventh son of a seventh son, discovers his destiny on the eve of his birthday. Will must learn to harness the powers of the Old Ones and embark on a quest to vanquish the terrifyingly evil magic of the Dark, an evil entity that threatens the world's very existence. The Dark is Rising won the author numerous international awards, including the Newbery Medal. Whether you're 11 or 111 you'll love it. It's a novel that stands alone; however there are four books to complete the series, all reissued this month.
What a majestic conjuration of Middle Grade magic this is – think Alice in Wonderland in a dazzling theatrical setting. The year is 1870 and Celeste is a lowly orphan who runs errands in a Royal Opera House. She wakes one day haunted by a dream in which an enigmatic emerald suited-man spoke ominously of her involvement in a game called the Reckoning. Celeste recalls a shipwreck from the dream too and then, back in what appears to be real life, the opera house’s huge galleon-shaped crystal chandelier splinters into a thousand pieces and everyone thinks Celeste is someone else. The opening in which she cascades into the story world is as exhilaratingly bewildering as Alice’s entry to Wonderland: “Down she falls. Oh, how the world has tumbled.” Why does everyone think she’s a gifted dancer called Maria? Why can’t everyone see her? And so an intricate, suspenseful tale of identity plays out as Celeste struggles to untangle the truth, with dreadfully high stakes. Gardner’s cast of larger-than-life characters is vibrantly drawn, and special mention must be made of vindictive diva Madame Sabina and her awful daughter, and Celeste’s ally Viggo. But the true star of this production is - of course – Celeste, whose resolve is adeptly expressed through the thoughts of the mysterious man in the emerald suit: “Seldom has he met a child with strength enough to move on to the final part of the game.” This is a dream of a book for confident readers who relish fiction that ignites their imaginations and delight in flexing their cerebral muscles.
December 2019 Book of the Month | ‘‘Twas the night before Christmas …’ but we’re on a snowy hillside where a lonely tree shivers in the cold. As it longs to be in the brightly lit little town below, suddenly footsteps suddenly approach. Somebody very important collects the tree and puts it at the centre of some special celebrations, before leaving with the familiar words: ‘Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!’ Taking inspiration from Clement C Moore’s classic poem, Chris Naylor-Ballesteros’ new book is filled with the joy of Christmas, and captures all its sense of magical anticipation. In a handsome small format, there’s a full page illustration on each right hand page and they tell the story with as much vivacity as the lines of verse opposite. It all concludes with a sparkling double page spread, the tree glowing in the foreground as St Nick flies off into the Christmas night silhouetted against the moon. If this doesn’t set you up for Christmas and its jollities, nothing will!
This first book in a new Shadowhunters spin-off series is a flavoursome feast for Cassie Clare fans. Co-written with Wesley Chu, it’s rich in action, romance and satisfying backstory detail about Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood as they race around Europe after the Mortal War. Magnus and Alec’s romantic vacation swiftly sours when an old friend turns up with news that a cult Magnus founded as “a joke long ago” is gaining power. Consequently, the Spiral Council “have issued a formal demand that you, Magnus Bane, High Warlock of Brooklyn, neutralize the cult of demon-worshippers known as the Crimson Hand. Immediately.” Initially reluctant to cut short his holiday, Magnus is compelled to clear his name and cull the cult before chaos is created. Pursued by demons, Magnus and Alec traverse Europe – from the City of Love (Paris), to the City of Masks (Venice), to the City of the War (Rome) - in search of the cult and its leader. Heady with action, sizzling with secrecy, and with strong LBGTQ+ representation throughout, the cliffhanger ending will leave fans yearning for the second instalment.
Winner of the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2016 | Award-winning Neil Gaiman shows all his story telling skills in this gripping fusion of familiar fairy tales told in a dark-hearted version with some original characters. Especially a bold-hearted queen. Not far from where the queen lives, a princess is under the spell of an enchantress who has put a whole country to sleep. Despite it being the eve of her wedding day, the bold queen decides to take action. Slipping into her mail shirt she arms herself with her sword and sets off out of the palace accompanied by the three dwarves who will lead her through the tunnels…The dark magic, great courage and spell-binding imagination that power this story is perfectly realised in Chris Riddell’s awesome illustrations.
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.
The Dark is Rising sequence | On holiday in Cornwall, Simon, Jane and Barney Drew discover an ancient map in the attic of the Grey House, where they are staying with their mysterious Great-Uncle Merry. They know immediately that it is special. But it is much more than just a map. It is the start of a quest to find a grail, a source of great power that could contain - or resurrect - the powerful, age-old forces of evil in the world. And the Drews are not the only ones searching for it.
This deservedly best-selling series launches with a powerful love story that thrills and chills in equal measure. Sailing from New York, 16 year old Tessa Gray arrives in Victorian London to meet her brother. But nothing goes according to plan and Tessa finds herself instead in the Downworld, a terrifying supernatural place of vampires, demons and warlocks. How Tessa survives before falling in love – the biggest danger of all! – is a terrifying and passionate read. This is a new urban fantasy full of vampires, werewolves and shape-shifters from the bestselling author of The Mortal Instruments series.
December 2019 Book of the Month | Set in 1912, this action-packed adventure feels both classic and contemporary, with Marina, its young heroine, yearning to break free from societal constraints to become the “new woman” she’s read about in modern magazines. Namely, the kind of woman who is “mistress of her own destiny”. Frustratingly, Marina’s father dismisses her desires outright. Being a naval captain he’s often away at sea and, with her mother gone, Marina is about to be shipped off to boarding school when all she really wants to do is set sail with her dad. So much so, Marina ends up stowing away on his ship. As his mission is vitally urgent, Captain Denham has little choice but to continue with Marina aboard. As their perilous voyage progresses, the thrilling dangers of enemy sightings, superstitious shipmates and icebergs are interlaced with myth and mystery as Marina feels an inexplicable “urgent tugging in her chest to go north” after being accused of possessing the power to “call up storms”. Indeed, Marina’s affinity with the sea adds an extra edge of intrigue throughout, leading to an eerie explanation as the novel twists and swells to its pulse-quickening crescendo.
Translated by the award winning Laura Watkinson | Available for the first time in the UK, this new translation is a real treat for fans of the breakout sensation Letters For the King, which brought the multimillion bestselling Dutch author Tonke Dragt to the attention of a UK audience for the first time and which then went on to win Children’s Book of the Year. Since then translator Laura Watkinson has continued her mission to bring us more of the award-winning author’s books. Written as twelve tales, the story of identical twins Laurenzo and Joacomo is perfectly suited to reading and sharing over the twelve days of Christmas! Each tale is a complete and satisfying adventure set in the wonderful fictional medieval world created so vividly in the Dragt books. The boys may be so identical that they can take turns to go to school, but they have very different talents and temperaments. Hard-working Laurenzo wants to make beautiful things and becomes a goldsmith; Jiacomo loves travel and adventure and in one tale is tempted to use his wiles to become an excellent thief. Although he gives up the immoral life, his skills come in very useful as from a case of mistaken identity involving the Knight of the Red Rose to the pursuit of the precious silver cups of Talamura, the brothers find themselves caught up in wild adventures that require all of their combined wisdom and cunning. A highly satisfying and totally absorbing read with prose that would be a joy to read aloud in class too.
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