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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.
January 2021 Book of the Month | 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.
January 2021 Book of the Month | Written and illustrated by Jion Sheibani, Sohal Finds a Friend is a sweet side-splitting story that will provide much comfort to little worriers as they enjoy an adventure in the company of an endearing boy and his furry friends. It’s a brilliant way to help children understand their anxieties and express themselves - think Pixar’s Inside Out in book form. Sohal is one of life’s worriers and dreads bedtime, when “the darkness would grow and grow, until it filled every part of his body”. His dad’s suggestion of calm breathing doesn’t help, and his mum’s suggestion of counting sheep is useless too, for in Sohal’s mind they’re transformed into mutant alien sheep fleeing a giant robot wolf! But everything changes when he draws the monsters that plague him and…THEY COME TO LIFE! With Hurt, Fail, Anger, Big, and Alone for company, Sohal’s attention is diverted to worrying about them - what will everyone at school think? – but it’s not long before The Worries help him understand and control his own worries, while providing a whole lot of fun. Funny, with thoughtful themes that foster off-the-page dialogue, this is a warm-hearted winner for 5+ year-olds. You can find more books on this theme in our Anxiety & Wellbeing collection.
Fans of S A Patrick’s fantasy novel A Darkness of Dragons will snatch up this sequel with real excitement – after all, in Patch Brightwater, Wren Cobble and Barver Knopferkerkle, he’s created the kind of characters readers really miss when the book ends. Reunited for more adventures, the three are faced with challenges and dangers galore as they try to thwart the wicked Hamelyn Piper. First on their to-do list however, is to rescue Patch’s friend Erner Whitlock from some very deep dungeons… The world the friends inhabit is full of surprises, for them as much as for readers, and their adventures crackle with magic and suspense. If you enjoy going on quests, untangling prophecies and, of course, spending time with characters who are brave, loyal and very good company, then these are the books for you.
January 2021 Book of the Month | The latest instalment of P G Bell’s Train to Impossible Places delivers its dose of excitement and adventure impeccably (as you’d expect in a book starring some of the most efficient and dedicated postal operatives you could ever hope to meet). In previous episodes, as crew member of the Impossible Postal Express, Suzy has befriended ghosts, battled a giant robot and saved an entire city from destruction. Now, in spite of the best efforts of her parents, who know what’s been going on and are, understandably, more than a little worried, she’s back on board with another challenging delivery to make: a book needs to be returned to its library. This being the Impossible Places, that’s a lot less simple and a lot more magical than it sounds, and the task will see Suzy sucked into a void storm, trapped at the bottom of the ocean - and almost eaten by a giant frog. PG Bell’s books overflow with invention and thrills and I defy anyone not to want to climb onboard with Suzy and her extraordinary friends. By the end of the story, our own world has been made just a bit more magical, and readers will feel that too as they close the book. Fans of trains and magical adventures will also enjoy Lev Grossman’s The Silver Arrow. Read more about The Train to Impossible Places series!
January 2021 Book of the Month | Set in a magical world, this glorious tale of adventure and daring stars the most unlikely heroine because, as the narrator explains, sometimes it takes a story to show that the truly extraordinary people – the ones who defeat monsters and save kingdoms – are often the ones that nobody notices at first. If that statement doesn’t make you want to snatch up the book and read it from beginning to end, then you have no heart! Smudge is indeed overlooked – she’s clumsy and in her own words ‘a bit useless’ but somehow, she emerges as the only hope for Crackledown when the evil harpy Morg tries to steal its magic. Fortunately, Smudge is also courageous, inventive and determined – and she has an equally remarkable helper in the shape of tea-drinking, trilby-wearing talking monkey, Bartholomew. Their adventures as they sail beyond the treacherous Northswirl and journey into the heart of the Everdark forest are filled with everything that makes for the best adventures, including magic, drama, narrow escapes, shared laughter and lots of heart. Originally published for World Book Day, Everdark has been reissued in a dyslexia friendly format, which is wonderful news for children like Smudge who struggle with reading and spelling, but everyone should read it. Everdark is a standalone story but part of Abi Elphinstone’s The Unmapped Chronicles series, which are also highly recommended.
January 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.
A boy with a special talent, a girl transformed into a rat by magic, and a fire-breathing young dracogriff (half dragon, half griffin) – three friends, three unlikely heroes! In S A Patrick’s sparkling fantasy adventure they face sorcerers, bandits, imprisonment and mercenary armies, plus betrayal by the people they should be able to trust the most, and they face them all with courage, loyalty to each other and humour. Their arch enemy is the legendary Pied Piper no less, supposedly imprisoned for what he did in Hamelyn, but actually free and planning more wickedness against humans and dragons alike. It’s a story full of adventure and excitement, as well as characters readers will root for from the first – and best of all, there’s a sequel! Readers who enjoy Patch, Wren and Barver’s adventures will also enjoy Abi Elphinstone’s Rumblestar series and Michelle Harrison’s Widdershins Adventures.
P.G. Bell’s debut The Train to Impossible Places established him as a writer of hugely exciting, inventive and satisfying adventure, and its sequel, The Great Brain Robbery, is just as good, if not even better. Once again 11-year-old Suzy is aboard the Impossible Postal Express tearing through the fantastical realms that make up the Union of Impossible Places, and this time it’s a do or die mission to save Trollville from a thoroughly nasty villain. Suzy is much more at home now with fuzzics, the strange mix of science and magic that lies at the heart of troll technology, though there are still some fabulous surprises in store for her and readers. Adventure doesn’t come more exciting or entertaining, and this is one train young readers really mustn’t miss. Read more about The Train to Impossible Places series!
So, so readable, Of Ants and Dinosaurs with the lightest and brightest of touches, made my brain itch with its creativity and klaxon alarm. Perfect for readers from young adult on, this sets itself as a “satirical fable, a political allegory and ecological warning”. In a time long long ago ants and dinosaurs joined forces to build a magnificent civilisation, when doom threatens will the dinosaurs listen to the ants? Cixin Liu is China’s number one science-fiction writer and his The Three-Body Problem was the first translated novel to win a Hugo award. I just love the cover, and the ants marching across the chapter pages had me smiling. As soon as I started to read my attention was well and truly caught. The prologue sets the scene with wonder and I read and believed without a moments doubt. While portraying the ant and dinosaur alliance, there is very much a warning to the human race here. Deceptively simple and brilliantly clever, I simply adored it.
Sometimes you are a whisper away from magic without even realizing it. Nine is an orphan pickpocket determined to escape her life in the Nest of a Thousand Treasures. When she steals a house-shaped ornament from a mysterious woman's purse, she knocks on its tiny door and watches it grow into a huge, higgledy-piggeldy house. Inside she finds a host of magical and brilliantly funny characters, including Flabberghast - a young wizard who's particularly competitive at hopscotch - and a hideous troll housekeeper who's emotionally attached to his feather duster. They have been placed under an extraordinary spell, which they are desperate for Nine to break - and if she can, maybe they can offer her a new life in return...
Fly into a fiery and fantastical future with No. 1 bestselling author David Walliams, in an epic adventure of myth and legend, good and evil, and one small boy who must save the world… Illustrated by the artistic genius Tony Ross! It is 2120 and London is in ruins. The young Prince Alfred has never known a life outside Buckingham Palace – but when strange goings-on breach its walls and stalk the corridors in the dead of night, he is thrust into a world of mystery, adventure and monsters. And when his mother, the Queen, is dragged away to the Tower of London, Alfred must screw up his courage and battle to save her, himself… and the entire city. In a future of myths and legends, join the bestselling David Walliams and venture forth into his most enthralling tale yet!
The Boy Who Grew Dragons Book 5 | The Boy Who Sang with Dragons is the fifth and final book in this outstanding series and in it Tomas discovers the final pieces of information about the amazing dragons that grow in his grandad’s garden on their wonderful dragonfruit tree. But Tomas can’t help feeling upset when he realises that his friend Aura’s links with the dragons go back further than his. Could she really be the Queen of the Dragons? Fortunately, Grandad is on hand for a chat and as the two chew things over (literally – Grandad’s pockets are always full of toffees), Tomas realises there’s nothing to worry about. All these stories are full of magic, adventure and comedy and this is a triumphant finish to a series that gives young readers dragon-sized helpings of pleasure and fun.
The Moomintrolls are all tucked up in bed, sleeping their long winter sleep when the Hemulen falls into their attic and tells them they need to get ready for Christmas. With no experience of Christmas, the Moomintrolls are a bit rattled, but manage to prepare everything in time – tree, presents, a feast. They share it with the little creatures of Moominvalley, who appreciate it all very much indeed. Funny, cosy and reassuring, this charming little story will put everyone in the mood for Christmas and the new paperback edition is just the thing for winter bedtimes.
The colourful illustrations are so vibrant. It helps bring the characters to life for little children. They will see the funny side of the Imps. This book helps children to learn to be polite and have manners all the time, even when being tempted by outsiders who are just plain rude, like the Imps. But Granny had her magic wand to help get the Imps outside where they belong. It is a wonderful story for young ones and the colourful characters make it believable for them. Diana Mason, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
March 2015 Debut of the Month An astonishingly different and chillingly striking tale that envelops the pages in a cloak of darkness and mystery. The author hurls the reader straight into the middle of the story, waiting before making introductions and explaining friendships, which effectively ensures you feel Ayla’s shock at the unknown world she finds herself in. The friendship and bravery of the children on their quest holds a torch of light to the fear, the author leaves you on the brink of doubt as you literally will the light to stay true and strong. The scarily real illustrations reach out as pages are turned, knowing that they come directly from the authors mind, as he is the illustrator, connects them even more strongly to the story. This has the feeling of a modern fairy tale about it, full of the scarily weird and vibrantly wonderful, as you turn the last page you are left standing on the edge of wanting more! ~ Liz Robinson A Piece of Passion from the editor Susan Houlden Every once in a while a first chapter lands on your desk that is simply compelling. Matt Griffin’s A Cage of Roots opens with orphan Ayla discovering herself trapped deep beneath the ground, in total darkness, with no idea of how she came to be there. We are instantly drawn into this epic fantasy adventure, and soon we meet Ayla’s mysterious giant uncles and her closest friends, Sean, Finny and Benvy, who set out together to rescue Ayla.What follows is a magical blend of this world and an ancient past. Old Irish figures rise up as the magic that lies beneath our feet and in our landscape stirs into life. Ayla and her friends face pure evil in a life-and-death quest. Matt creates some truly demonic and terrifying creatures, and he plays on our fears and hopes as he spins his tale of deep, dark secrets, awakening powers, betrayal, tests of true character and friendship, and ultimate destinies.As a graphic illustrator, Matt has added rich atmospheric images to each chapter. His storytelling style is fast-paced, hugely imaginative and, at times, humourous. A book to read well beyond midnight.
October 2020 Debut of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2020 | Imogen’s life at home is not all perfect so it’s no surprise that she follows the strange silver moth that arrives from nowhere – even when it leads her through a door in a tree! And there’s no stopping her little sister Marie from following…Like any magic opening, the door leads the two girls into an extraordinary world where almost anything can – and will – happen! As in the best traditions of children’s stories, Imogen and Marie meet a wealth of larger-than-life characters including a spoiled prince and a dancing bear as they journey through a richly-imagined world of possibilities. Chris Riddell’s illustrations bring the magic to life perfectly.
Feyre, Rhys, and their close-knit circle of friends are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve. Yet even the festive atmosphere can't keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated--scars that will have far-reaching impact on the future of their Court.
Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people. Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms - and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future - and the future of a world cleaved in two. With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas's masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.
*** Suitable for 16+ due to some explicit content. Pure and completely engaging escapism in the form of high fantasy. Feyre; stubbon, independent and loving has taught herself how to provide for her impoverished family, however on a winters day, one arrow changes her life forever. The world in which Feyre finds herself is a biting fusion of folk and fairy tale, the author takes your imagination on a breathtaking and on occasion chillingly wild ride. This has an otherworldly hint of a ‘Twilight’ series feel to it, however the romance has a decided edge and the ferocity of the violence is more explicit and therefore suited to an older reader. A gloriously spiky and feisty tale, full of the weird and wonderful, the second in the series will be awaited with bated breath.
Sarah J. Maas devotees certainly have a treat in store with this luxurious collector’s edition of the first book in her outrageously popular A Court of Thorns and Roses series. The story that spurred the series is here presented in a beautiful black slipcase that’s embellished with gold foiling. The book itself features a stunning gold foil depiction of a forest scene on its cover, lavish metallic ink endpapers, intricate fairy tale-esque illustrative detail on every page, plus a handsome newly drawn map of the Faerie Lands of Prythian. It’s a beguiling package that befits the tale itself, an enchanting story that follows nineteen-year-old Feyre’s magical, epic quest through the beautiful, dangerous faerie lands. Reeling with romance, intrigue and outright “immortal horror”, Feyre’s journey feels timeless in setting and atmosphere, and contemporary in much of its straight-talking delivery.
Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin's manoeuvrings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit - and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well. As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords - and hunt for allies in unexpected places. In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all. Contains mature content. Not suitable for younger readers.
September 2014 Book of the Month A fabulous fantasy adventure (with a dash of romance) where the writing literally bombards your senses. Independent and tenacious Izzy unexpectedly finds herself in a different Dublin; Dubh Linn is aligned just to the side of her known world and is full of the fae, people and creatures who should belong in folklore. The fae are not sweet and syrupy, they live on the edge of battle and are sharp, chilling and capable of much cruelty. Long writes in such a way that you can see, hear and feel this Dubh Linn and the people that live there. Excitement and jeopardy become constant companions and encourage you to join and support Izzy every step of the way - it’s all too easy to lose yourself in this breathtaking world. ~ Liz Robinson
Masterfully melding the contemporary world with a richly evoked fantasy realm, this is a fairy tale re-telling of the finest order. Harper has lived a tough life, what with her mom being sick and her brother forced to take on their absent father’s violent debt collection work. She has cerebral palsy but “can move quickly when I want to”. She’s a fighter too, so when she’s snatched by a stranger and deposited in Ironrose Castle, in the heart of a parallel realm called Emberfall, her captors are thrown off-guard. “Most of the girls Grey drags from her world won’t touch a blade or a bridle,” Prince Rhen observes with admiration. And Rhen has seen plenty of girls in his time. Blighted by a curse inflicted by a spurned enchantress, he’s forever fixed at the age of eighteen until someone truly falls for him. This curse has seen his kingdom all but disintegrate and many die and, if he fails with Harper, Rhen will be “condemned to spend eternity as a monster.” With Harper adamant she’s not going to fall for him and Rhen certain the curse will never be broken, they make a pact: “I’ll help you save your country and you’ll help me get home,” Harper agrees. The road ahead is paved with pulse-quickening perils, alongside Harper’s tortuous conflict between love for her family and doing the right thing in Emberfall, not to mention her growing feelings for Rhen. There’s a tangible frisson between them, but is it love? As time ticks on and the powers of the malevolent enchantress heighten, worlds collide to take the stakes even higher. Replete as it is with romance, relatable coming-of-age conflicts and all-out action, fans of Cassandra Clare, Marissa Meyer and Sarah J. Maas will relish this novel, the first in the Cursebreakers series, and its cliffhanger climax will leave readers aching for the sequel.
A whopping adventure with some thrilling chases, heart-racing paranormal moments, unexplained criminal activity, a robot with the unlikely name of Gustav Klimt, a secret enterprise called Unicorne and Michael, a great schoolboy hero, at its heart. When Michael saves a husky from jumping off the cliff he unleashes an unstoppable flow of events which looks as if it will help him to find an explanation for his father’s mysterious disappearance. Did his father have special powers? And does he? . and who is the mysterious Klimt? A Piece of Passion for A Dark Inheritance by Barry Cunningham, Publisher, Chicken House We all know there are dark forces. Right. No question – and thank goodness some people have powers that can alter stuff so we can at least get a twist on reality to stay ahead. Right. No question. Chris d’Lacey knows the whole story – he’s just not telling us yet. Get reading. Before it’s too late. You’ll love it.