Synopsis (from Simon and Schuster):
Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…
Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.
Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.
Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.
Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.
But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.
Why I can’t wait to read The Wicked Deep:
- This has everything I am interested in – fantasy, feminsim, folklore and the relationship between place and story. This sounds a little like some of Penelope Lively’s work, where outsiders try to establish the truth in old traditions and end the damage they cause.
- Sirens. *Whispers* – I have sirens in my recent writing. There is so much in siren stories which lends itself to feminist narratives, and there are fewer sirens already in YA fiction than merpeople. The idea of the annual curse blew my mind away. What a fantastic way to make sirens believable in a modern-day setting.
- ‘Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town’ … this sounds like a narrative challenge, and I am interested to know how Penny’s relationship with Bo changes her feelings about the town. Sometimes it takes a new person or experience to open our eyes.
- ‘Mistrust and lies’ – the nature of truth is an important theme in the current climate, where nobody is certain to whether they are reading truth or misinformation. A small town with its own traditions is a brilliant setting to explore this theme. I can imagine lots of characters unwilling to give up beliefs they have learned from a young age.
The Wicked Deep by Shea Earnshaw
Simon and Schuster Children’s UK
Note – I am lucky enough to have an advanced copy of The Wicked Deep, so I won’t be waiting long! I wrote this prior to reading my copy.
Synopsis (from HarperCollins):
Marcie is at a crossroads.
Finished with school, but unsure what she wants to do next. Abandoned by her mother when she was tiny – but drifting further and further from her dad.
Marcie is real. With real problems.
Thor is at a crossroads too.
Soon, if he doesn’t make a decision, he’s gong to face the fade. Years ago, he was Marcie’s imaginary friend – then she cast him out, back to his own world.
Thor is not real. And that’s a real problem…
But Marcie and Thor need each other. And to fix their lives, they’re going to have to destroy everything… and then build a new world.Why I can’t wait to read Nobody Real:
- Imaginary Friends are so interesting – from Imaginaries by AF Harold, and The Light Jar by Lisa Thompson, imaginary friends have appeared in some fantastic scenarios in Middle Grade fiction. They rarely appear in YA, and I am pleased to see this challenged. Teens might have outgrown their imaginary friends, but that doesn’t make their reappearance dull. If anything, it makes me wonder why the character needs their old friend. It grabs my interest.
- The agent website references ‘the imaginary word’. I love stories where a fictional or imaginary world turns out to be real. They are often about the role of imagination within our lives, or the relationship between stories and life.
- Contemporary YA is not my comfort-zone, but add a hint of fantasy and it becomes intriguing. I love worlds which are almost ordinary, but have a hint of magic around the edges. David Almond and Amy Wilson do this well, and Out Of The Blue by Sophie Cameron is another great example.
- Why did Marcie ‘cast Thor Out’? It doesn’t sound like she outgrew him, it sounds like there is some interesting backstory. I want to know the relationship between what happened at that moment and the pair’s present situation.
Nobody Real by Steven Camden
Synopsis [from Walker Books]:
France 1916. Angélique Lacroix is haymaking when the postman delivers the news: her father is dead, killed on a distant battlefield. She makes herself a promise: the farm will remain exactly the same until her beloved older brother comes home from the Front. “I think of it like a magical spell. If I can stop time, if nothing ever changes, then maybe he won’t change either.” But a storm ruins the harvest, her mother falls ill and then the requisition appears… In a last-ditch attempt to save the farm from bankruptcy, Angélique embarks on a journey across France with her brother’s flock of magnificent Toulouse geese.Why I can’t wait to read The Goose Road:
- I live near the Solway Firth. For six months of the year, we share the land with both pink-footed and barnacle geese. They fly over my home twice a day in great formations. We hear them before we see them. I go to the window every time. Geese are part of my life and landscape, and I understand how their presence can form a special part of a life. I want the book for this reason alone.
- The mixture of WW1 history, family story and agriculture sounds like Morpurgo’s work, and it is a combination I can’t read too many times. It is the story of who we were not so long ago, and it is the closest to hearing our great-grandparents’ voices most of us will come. These are stories we have heard recycled, but never first-hand. A fictional voice helps us to relate to history.
- The history of the home front is as interesting as the war itself. This is where life went on against the odds. There are stories of courage and survival here as much as there are on the battlefield.
- Conflict: the character vows to hold on to the farm until her brother returns. Immediately the narrative offers a challenge. Will Angélique’s brother return? I know I’ll hold my breath until the last pages to find out.
The Goose Road by Rowena House
Walker Books UK
Every hundred years, in the magical town of Knowmealldown, fairies known as the Good Folk join the villagers for a Great Festival. It’s a raucous, beautiful, enchanted celebration.
Well, it’s supposed to be.
Except every time Brian helps to organise the Great Festival it’s a disappointment. Worse, this time the Folk Princess has been stolen. Can Brian thwart the Princess’s evil captor in time to avoid the wrath of the Folk King and Queen, and finally deliver a Festival to remember?
Why I can’t wait for The Cloak Of Feathers:
- It gets hard to tell you in new words how folk legends have built my imagination. A princess captured by evil forces? The wrath of the faerie King? We’re in familiar territory … except, it has a modern face. It is lovely to see folk traditions and stories having a revival in 2018, and this looks like a great take on the interactions between faerie and human realms.
- Why is Brian unable to organise a successful festival? Does it have anything to do with the faeries, or his family’s past? I can’t wait to hear the backstory. Is he cursed, or does he just believe he is?
- Oh that cover. I am a huge fan of Feather Boy by Nicky Singer, where a boy makes a coat from feathers as part of a school-project based on fairy tales. I have dreamed about that coat every day since I read Feather Boy. It is lovely to see another feather coat, and I can’t wait to hear the story behind it.
- ‘I told them I’d fetch the stupid cow’. I’ve read the first chapter, and love how it sent up the organisation of local events. Nigel Quinlan is clearly observant of people and how we behave when we work together. Think The Vicar Of Dibley, except this time it is the Junior Action (cow fetching) Sub Group. I love it already.
The Cloak Of Feathers by Nigel Quinlan
Orion Children’s Books
For fans of the extraordinary Broadway musical Hamilton, New York Times bestselling author L. M. Elliott delivers a richly detailed historical novel about the lively Peggy Schuyler and her devoted friendship to Alexander Hamilton during the drama of the American Revolution.
Revolutionary. Friend. Lover. Sister.
Peggy Schuyler has always felt like she’s existed in the shadows of her beloved sisters: the fiery, intelligent Angelica and the beautiful, sweet Eliza. The three of them have a magnetic pull—they are stronger together than they are alone. But it’s in the throes of a chaotic war that Peggy finds herself a central figure amid Loyalists and Patriots, spies and traitors, and friends and family. Charming, quick-witted, and clever beyond compare, Peggy is determined to use her talents to make her own mark on the Revolutionary War.
When a flirtatious aide-de-camp, Alexander Hamilton, writes an eloquent letter to Peggy asking for her help in wooing the earnest Eliza, Peggy finds herself unable to deny such an impassioned plea. A fast friendship forms between the two, but Alexander is caught in the same war as her father, General Philip Schuyler, and the danger to all their lives is real. Everything is a battlefield—from the front lines to their carefully coded letters—and Peggy must put herself in harm’s way to protect the people she loves. But will her bravery and intelligence be enough to keep them all safe
Why I can’t wait to read Alexander And Peggy:
- Alex and Eliza was a big hit this year, a YA Novel about Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler. This is about the same area of history, a story made famous by the musical show. Hands-up in the air, I don’t know the story, but that’s about to change. People often connect to history through fictionalised accounts of real people. The first step to understanding is caring.
- The main relationship in life was between Hamilton and Peggy’s sister Eliza. The first question that puts in everybody’s heads is how far, in this fictional spin-off, will things go between Hamilton and Peggy? Will there be any hint of romance?
- Sometimes the most interesting stories during a war can be found behind the battle lines. I’m interested in Peggy’s story, and her attempts to protect the men she loves. What gets in her way? What sort of danger does she find herself in?
- Peggy sounds similar in character to Jo March from Little Women. I think this, most of all, is the reason I want to read Hamilton And Peggy. The feisty sister? American Revolution? Can another girl take over our hearts like Jo March?
Hamilton and Peggy! A Revolutionary Friendship
February 2018 (UK)
Twelve-year-old Marinka dreams of a normal life, where her house stays in one place long enough for her to make friends. But her house has chicken legs and moves on without warning. The only people Marinka meets are dead, and they disappear when her grandmother, Baba Yaga, guides them through The Gate. Marinka wants to change her destiny, but her house has other ideas…
Why I can’t wait to read The House With Chicken Legs:
- I love fairy tales and folk lore. Russian fairytales aren’t one of the areas I am better aquainted with, and it will be lovely to expand my knowledge alongside reading the novel.
- ‘The only people Marinka meets are dead.’ The Gate and the dead remind me of Sabriel, a series I loved as a teenager and must finish. The most intriguing thing about Sabriel was her ability to bring people back from the gates of death.
- Is there one place the house wants to go? A fate it has in mind, or something it wants to fix? I’m intrigued about the motives of this house.
- Marinka has met few people, and lived closely with her Grandmother. I wonder whether an adventure will be a challenge for someone who has lead a relatively isolated life, and how she will change as a character.
- Sophie Anderson is a fell dweller. I want to see whether the Cumbrian landscape has influenced her writing.
The House With Chicken Legs
Usbourne Publishing Ltd
Synopsis (from Amazon UK) –
Astor, Ontario. 1904.
A boy staggers out of the forest covered in blood and collapses at the feet of 16-year-old Emmy. While others are suspicious and afraid, Emmy is drawn to him. Is he really the monster the townsfolk say he is?
Astor, Ontario. 1994.
Megan arrives from London for her great grandmother Emmy’s 105th birthday. It should be a happy family occasion, but Megan is nursing a broken heart and carrying a secret she fears might consume her.
One family. Two women. A century of secrets. A timeless love story.
Why I can’t wait to read Stranger by Keren David –
The effect of a past event over a lifetime. As a teenager, this was basically my favourite theme. Sally Beauman, Anita Shreve, anything published by Virago. Women whose lives were changed in a single moment in youth. These are the books that built me, and it is lovely to see one written with teenagers in mind.
It’s nice to see a book set in the 1990s. The third golden age of children’s publishing didn’t begin until the late 90s, so with a few notable and prolific exceptions, (Anne Fine, Jacqueline Wilson, Dick King-Smith and JK Rowling) there are few well-known children’s books whose protagonists share my childhood.
North America. ‘Monstrous’ children coming out of the forest. Has the boy lived there? Was he raised in the forest, or has he been hiding in the vast wilderness? My curiosity has been provoked. Whatever the truth, the time-setting will make this story even more interesting. Society was very judgmental in the early 1900s.
The relationship between two females, of different generations. See point one. How will Emmy’s story change Megan’s perception of her own life?
Stranger by Keren David