Review: Mr Shaha’s Recipes For Wonder – Alom Shaha


Mr Shaha’s Recipes For Wonder puts the look, ask and play back into science. From the start it makes clear that its aim is to help children to make enquiries for themselves. It is a recipe book of experiments which can be conducted at the kitchen table.

There are some positive messages here about enquiry and growth-mindset. The book deidicates a section to the idea that the reader might not know the answers when they set out. A helpful chart suggests the kind of questions they might start asking.

The book is divided into five sections:

  • Motion
  • Sound
  • Electricity, magnetism and light,
  • Atoms
  • Living things

These divisions are friendly to younger readers who might not have come across biology, chemistry and physics. Chapter pages give some information about the area of science, including examples of where it might be found. I would note that the book is physics-heavy. All the experiments are great but it would have been lovely to see more biology.

The experiments are easy to follow with clear illustrations of each stage. It is lovely that these instructions aren’t confined to tiny boxes. There is nothing worse than not being quite sure what you are supposed to do. The visual checklist of equipment also makes the book more friendly for younger readers. 

Timg_5186he book would be nice for a broad age-range. Younger children might gain something from supervised experiments while children in secondary school could use it to revise scientific concepts. It would also be nice for adults looking to demonstrate science to children. When I was a Brownie Leader, for example, we were always looking for half-hour activities which could be done with basic equipment. The book encourages adults to revise the concepts themselves first to help children get the most out of their learning.

This is also a lovely book to look at. Beautiful, bright water-colour illustrations accompany the experiments and it has an attractive and exciting cover. This would make a lovely gift for children who are curious about the world.

Thank you to Alom Shaha for my review copy. Opinions my own.

Louise Nettleton

Middle Grade Reviews

Review: Charlie And Me by Mark Lowery



As I said, we went there on holiday last summer and it was amazing. This was fourteen months ago: when we still did things as a family. Back before things got a bit crummy at home. Back before Dad started working a Charillion hours a week and Mum started sleeping in. 


Martin sneaks out early one morning with the biscuit tin, his life savings and his little brother Charlie. They are going to travel across the country and relive the memories of their family trip to Cornwall. Since their last visit Dad has been working every hour of the day and Mum has been unable to do anything at all. That doesn’t get Charlie down. He has a wicked sense of humour and Martin thinks he is one in a million.

A story of brotherly love in the style of Two Weeks With The Queen and My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece.

An excellent book. The publicity package should have come with tissues, because I sure as heck cried. Think Annabel Pitcher and you won’t be far off – memorable characters dealing with a difficult time in life.

The story alternates between the present moment, in which Martin and Charlie head to Cornwall, and the previous year’s holiday. Memories of their last trip to Cornwall build to an understanding of the present day. There is a huge twist towards the end. I decided to keep this review free of major-spoilers. This decision makes it difficult to share the key themes. All I can say is don’t peek. Don’t flick to the back, don’t scan the end pages. Keep reading and you will find yourself caught up in Charlie and Martin’s adventure.

Charlie is a wonderful character. He was born early and lots of people write him off. He hates school because he has to sit at the ‘thick-kid table’ and battle his way through work he doesn’t understand. Charlie has a creative mind and lots to say. I thought there were some really positive messages about able-ism and not making assumptions about people’s intelligence by one aspect of their ability.

Another positive aspect of this book was the working-class representation. Even in 2018 it is unusual to pick up a book and find it is about a working-class family from the North of England. Even less so to find a book about working-class lives which is not about social issues (eg drug-abuse or gang-crime.) This book was about a lovely family. It didn’t shy away from the fact that Dad had to save for two years to afford a holiday in the UK. It is important for kids to see themselves in their reading material. I’m pleased to see children’s fiction making more effort in terms of representation.

A story of brotherly love and friendship. Distinctive voices and a big heart. 


Thanks to Piccadilly Press for my copy. Opinions my own.

Louise Nettleton



Event round-up: Andersen Press YA Book Brunch

Book haul – how good does my TBR pile look right now?

On Saturday 10th March 2018 Andersen Press hosted a YA Book Brunch for bloggers, bookstagrammers and bookish social media aficionados. This was an opportunity to hear about forthcoming titles, meet some of their authors and to network with other bloggers. And there were croissants. What’s not to love?

This was the first time I had attended a blogging event. I couldn’t have been made more welcome. Harriet – the fab publicist at Andersen – and the regular bloggers made me totally welcome. It was lovely to meet some of the people I’ve spoken to over the year, like Faye and Bex, and to meet people whose blogs are now on my radar such as Josh.

We had a great presentation  of forthcoming titles from editor Chloe Sackur, and heard from authors Julia Gray and Emily Thomas. I would love to share some of the forthcoming books with you. I hope you’re excited too! 

birdReboud – Kwame Alexander

April 2018

Kwame Alexander is new to me. Since the event I’ve devoured his first prose-poetry novel and I can tell you his work is amazing. This is a must for fans of Sarah Crossan. Rebound follows Charlie Bell, a teenager whose life changes one summer when he discovers basketball, romance and his family’s past.


Emily Thomas

Mud – Emily Thomas

July 2018

Mud is a semi-autobiographical YA novel. Emily Thomas spent her adolescence on a Thames barge with her siblings and step-siblings. The experience informed parts of her novel. It is the story of Lydia, whose father has remarried. The family move to barge on the Thames estuary. Thomas spoke about the need for stability during times of family upheaval. Lydia’s best friend is her source of stability.



Shadows – Meaghan McIssac

March 2018

 Patrick is searching for a way back to his own time, and he doesn’t know what happened to his family. Shadows is the sequel to Movers. The books are set in a world where people are connected across time. People from the future are desperate to travel back to a time when there were more resources. It is a sci-fi refugee narrative, with a deadly sinister and Conservative group called BMAC hunting down people who enable time-travel. 

Check out my Twitter page for a GIVEAWAY.




What Girls Are Made Of – Elena K. Arnold

August 2018

This is the story of Nina, a girl recovering from an unhealthy relationship. It was a runaway success in the US, and sounds like perfect reading for people who enjoyed The Nowhere Girls.



No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen

October 2018

With proofs just off the press, I am honoured to be one of the first people to read No Fixed Address. Of all the books we spoke about, it wasn’t the book I immediately gravitated towards, but I can’t get the protagonist out of my head. Chloe Sackur did a great job of discussing the story’s relevance in the modern world.

Felix Knutsson lives with his mom in a van. Mom swears it is temporary, but the months tick by and they are still in the van. How long can Felix hide homelessness from his friends?



Julia Gray

Little Liar – Julia Gray

June 2018

Nora has a tale to tell, but not everyone will believe it. Not only is she a great actor, she is a proficient liar who likes to push the boundaries.

Julia Gray spoke about how teens take on aspects of other people’s personalities. Nora is not a nice character, but she sounds like an interesting one. As a child one of my favourite books was The Tulip Touch by Anne Fine. This is the story of a girl who is a bit too good at lying, and the friend who gets sucked into her world. Little Liar sounds similar. Characters don’t have to be nice to be interesting.




The Lost Witch – Melvin Burgess

August 2018

Melvin Burgess is – as the publicity material suggests – the Godfather of YA. I had the pleasure of studying Junk as part of the children’s literature module of my degree. It was the first book for teens which showed drug use in a realistic way.

The Lost Witch is about Bea, a witch who is being hunted and doesn’t know who to trust. Should she listen to the people who tell her she is in danger? What is their agenda? Fans of The Wren Hunt look no further. Folk-traditions meets contemporary thriller. It sounds fantastic.



Monsters by Sharon Dogar

February 2019

This was doubly-exciting. After getting over the excitement of hearing about a book due out in 2019, I learned that the story is about the teenage years of Mary (Wollstonecraft) Shelley. Romanticism is one of my favourite periods of literary history, not least because the lives of its leading figures were fascinating.

Monsters is about the male figures who surround and manipulate Mary, and the influence this might have had on the themes of Frankenstein. I intend to do some serious rereading ahead of Monsters, and look forward to reading a proof copy in the autumn.


Huge thanks to Harriet Dunlea for organising this event, and to everyone at Andersen for your time, courtesy and for sharing your fantastic fiction with us.

Young Adult Reviews

To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo



My mother would deny me the heart of a prince, but the heart of a prince would be enough to erase any bad feelings between us. I could continue with my legacy, and the Queen would no longer have to worry about our kind being hunted. If I do this, we would both get what we want.

(To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo. PP. 50-51.) 


Lira has a heart for every year she has been alive. Every year on her birthday, she kills another prince and stashes their heart in her chest. When she saves a prince from being killed by a mermaid, Lira is transformed into a human in punishment. The only way to win back the trust of her mother, the Sea Queen, is to kill the Prince Elian and deliver his heart ahead of the Winter Solstice.

Prince Elian would rather be a captain than a king. He roams the seas in his ship, the Saad, killing sirens to rid the world of their threat. When he saves Lira from drowning, he knows there is more to her than meets the eye. Could she be the key to helping him destroy siren-kind for good? Can he trust her? Can she trust him? How many deals will Elian have to make before he can face the Sea Queen?birdReview:

To Kill A Kingdom imagines sirens and mermaids in all their bloody glory. It makes many references to Disney’s The Little Mermaid, but you won’t find friendly fish and singing lobsters here. Instead there is murder, revenge and hate-to-love romance.

The story is told in a dual-narrative. Both Lira and Elian narrate. This worked well and allowed us to see the same kingdoms through different eyes. My favourite part was the world-building. There is a city made of gold, a ship where a teenage prince plays at being a captain and an ice-kingdom which perpetrates its own myths to ensure a loyal following. Sounds good? If you like fairy tales you will enjoy this for the world alone.

I enjoyed the plot, particularly Lira’s transformation from a girl who would do anything her mother wanted into a young woman who thinks people should give their respect freely. Although this was fantasy, it made some very serious comments about emotionally manipulative parents. It reminded me of The Sin Eater’s Daughter in this respect.

There is also an emphasis on finding your own people. Elian would rather pick his crew than be forced to live the life he was born into. This is one of those novels where even the minor characters feel totally real. There is Madrid, the only female pirate, and Kye the fiercely-protective friend who hates it when the prince writes him off as a body-guard. The crew are loyal to Elian, and slow to trust Lira. 

This is already proving popular, and I enjoyed it for the world alone. It is a strong first novel which makes a good interpretation of an existing fairy tale. I look forward to hearing more from Christo.


Thanks to Hot Key Books and Readers First for my copy. Opinions my own.


Middle Grade Reviews

A Witch Alone by James Nicol



If she went to find the book she would see Estar, perhaps. Maybe even see Erraldur, the feyling city. And she couldn’t expect others to go in her place. She was the only one able to read from the book, so how could they hope someone else would be able to find it?

(A Witch Alone by James Nicol. P68.) 


During an eventful holiday in Kingsport, Arianwyn is given a secret mission by the High Elder. She must venture into the Great Wood and bring back the Book of Quiet Glyphs. Arianwyn returns to Lull to find it in chaos. The hex which caused trouble during her training has spread. Spirit Creatures and Feylings have been driven from their woodland home towards Lull. As tensions cause Arianwyn’s support network to deteriorate, she must confront her mission alone and learn the truth about the Book of Quiet Glyphs.  



James Nicol’s writing is refreshing. It is exactly what middle grade should be, full of lemon cakes and magic and moon hares. I love the progression between books one and two. Arianwyn has got her star badge, but her magical education is not at an end. Her adventures are only just beginning.

Newly qualified Arianwyn needs to believe that she deserves her badge. She thinks that being a qualified witch means she should be able to solve everything alone. This is exacerbated when she is forced to keep her mission from her best friend and confidant Salle. I loved Salle’s development, as she searches for her own place in life and learns to see herself as something more than Arianwyn’s sidekick.

This story was very relatable. Arianwyn does not receive the training and emotional support she needs from Miss Newman or The High Elder. Miss Newman’s character was developed brilliantly. We have all met that person who thinks they are a cut above others because they are in a managerial position. The mentor who gives snippy comments and criticism, but no advice.

I love this world of Snotlings and moon hares and magical voids. There is just enough danger to keep things interesting, but not so much that a young reader would get overwhelmed. The war is happening far away and there is a sense of political agendas playing out the the Witch’s Council, but this not the main story. Our main concern is Arianwyn and her friends, and their adventures in Lull. The main themes are friendship and self-confidence.

Gimma’s return made a fantastic sub-plot. I love the fact that she is given a second chance in Lull, and that the other characters learn to see beyond the events of book one. This is a very positive message of forgiveness and the fact that we all make mistakes and get things wrong.

The ending set the story up for a sequel and I can see this developing into a longer series. This is a very strong second book and I look forward to Arianwyn’s return.


Louise Nettleton

Thanks to Chicken House Books and Jazz B for my copy of A Witch Alone. Opinions my own.


Review: Brazen by Penelope Bagieu


Brazen tells the story of fifteen women who defied the social pressures of their time to live as they chose. There have been a lot of books about women’s life stories in the past year. Some have clearly aimed to change our perceptions of womanhood while others have churned out the life stories of any woman vaguely in the public eye. Brazen has a clear agenda. Its whole tone is subversive. 

Penelope Bagieu has established herself as a graphic artist, and has previously published graphic biographies. The stories in Brazen are told through cartoon strips. They start with the subject’s childhood, establish what they were up against and tell the story of their journey to success and their legacy. I love the continuity between the strips. Every strip starts with a pen portrait and dates of birth and death, and ends with a double page picture depicting a defining moment in the subject’s life. 

The book represents a good range of women, culturally, historically and in terms of role. All the women overcame some kind of prejudice or common perception about women. Margaret Hamilton, for example, was told she would never act without a nose job. She ended up playing the Wicked Witch Of The West in the 1939 film of The Wizard Of Oz. She played the part so well it became one of the best known roles in Hollywood (and she totally eclipsed Dorothy …)

While lots of these books about women’s lives have been aimed at children – or primarily at children, as Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls has proved to have crossover appeal – Brazen has a darker, wittier tone which would make it a good choice for teenagers or adults. The humour is tongue-in-cheek but not inappropriate for children. 

I love the use of graphic art to give an overview of a person’s life. I can’t wait to leave my copy lying around the house. I don’t think people be able to resist picking it up. 


Thanks to Sarah Garnham and Ebury Publishing for my copy of Brazen. Opinions my own.


Short Story

Fan-Fiction: Now We Rise Blog Tour

COBB Blog Tour Banner.png

Today is a very special post.

Children Of Blood And Bone is a reccent favourite. By favourite I mean I have been imploring everyone to read it. This isn’t just good, guys, it is stellar. 

I am delighted to take part in the blog tour. This is the most open and unconventional blog tour I have been invited to join, and it is a breath of fresh air. Instead of asking everyone to write a review for a scheduled date, it invites bloggers to create orignial content. As much original content as they like during the period of the blog tour. 

If you like Hogwarts Houses and Divergent factions, you will love the magi clans. Essentially these define people by how they channel their magic. Reapers see the dead, healers cure people. Tiders channel their magic into water and Winders into air. My story is about a Tider and and Winder. It takes a similar theme to Children Of Blood And Bone but imagines the troubles and strengths a Winder might have when faced with a tyrant. Along the way she meets a boy called Taki … but I won’t spoil it. 

Constructive feedback is always welcome. Hope you enjoy. 



(Photograph: Paul Nettleton)

Cry Mama Khazri – Louise Nettleton

Sit quiet when the soldiers come. That’s what Mama always taught me. Sit quiet, say nothing and listen to the wind. Even so, the first time the soldiers came, Mama was impressed that I had sat quiet at the back of the cupboard, even as people screamed and shots rang out and doors were broken apart.

‘Did you not feel frightened?’ she said.

‘No Mama,’ I told her. ‘The wind sung me a lullaby.’

Nobody else heard it. There were no other winders in our village, no other children who played games with the wind. The wind played games with me and told me stories and when other children’s papers blew away, mine always sailed back into my hands.

One day I moved from the back of the cupboard and pressed my eye to the key-hole. I had always imagined the soldiers to be unnaturally big and was surprised to see that most of them were boys. At their head was General Arun, the King’s nephew. The General lead raids on the villages. Some said he wanted to weed out magi, but often there was no reason for the raids other than Arun enjoyed it. Before he killed people he let them beg for as long as possible. Let them build up hope and thank him for his mercy before he ran them through with his bayonet. When he made a kill, the general left a white blossom on the ground. Some said it marked one step closer to purifying the land, but most people in the villages thought it was a boast. It was the General’s way of saying he was leader of the hunt.

When I was fifteen Mama was killed. For weeks I spoke to nobody. I tried to tell people how I felt but my voice didn’t work. The wind spoke for me: gales tore through the village, uprooting trees and bringing roof-tiles down. The wind became my second Mama. It wrapped me in soft breezes and whispered comforts. So it might have gone on, except when I was reminded to sit tight, stay silent and do nothing when the soldiers came I could no longer nod in mute agreement. Why should the soldiers not hear about the pain they had caused? The next time the soldiers came I was ready. ‘Wind, you must not comfort me tonight,’ I said. ‘Comfort is no longer enough. If I am to sit quietly I need to know my voice has been heard.’  Wind magic is like a whisper crossed with blowing, blowing gently until your desire connects with the heart of the breeze. The wind caught my desires and the magic ignited. My back was against the cupboard wall but my mind was with the breeze.

This was different to any magic I had experienced. I was the puppet-master. The wind was obedient to my command. At my bidding it cried like a widow who had just learned of her partner’s passing. It cried like a small child whose mother had been cut down. I watched through the keyhole. The soldiers’ stumbled and misfired as they covered their ears. They had heard such cries before but had always been able to silence them with a bayonet or a sword. General Arun cursed and cried for his men to keep their positions. It made no difference. They fell back with their fingers in their ears and ran for the woods.

Give the girl a chance.

The elders talked long into the night. The village was recalled early the next morning, as the sun rose in the orange sky. A cock crowed, and I took it to be an omen. If the cock could not be silenced, nor could I.

‘Aira is of an age to test her magic,’ said the High Elder, ‘but she must visit our neighbours in Kalamon so she truly knows what the soldiers are capable of.’

I rigged a sail boat and set out along the coast. The wind was my constant companion along the journey and it sped me on my way. The journey which would have taken another person into the night took me two or three hours, and the sea remained calm although I had a great wind in my sails. When I reached the harbour at Kalamon I leapt out to drag my boat in, but a boy leapt from the jetty and took hold of the prow.

‘Thank you,’ I said, afraid my displeasure was evident in my voice. What made him think I wasn’t managing? The boy said nothing, nothing at all. His brow was furrowed as if doing the job was only an excuse to let his mind roam. He insisted he would walk me to the settlement in the olive groves.

‘There is no need,’ I said.

‘My Grandfather insists.’ He said it like it was final. Like me he had been taught to respect his elders.

Almost the whole village had been burned to the ground. Possessions were scattered everywhere – watches and photographs and wooden trinkets half-buried in the mud. The only survivors were the people who lived in the hills. Between the possessions were twenty or thirty white blossoms.

‘We will not clear it, although the soldiers say they will impose a fine if we do not get rid of this eye-sore. I replace the blossoms myself. Why should the truth rot away?’ It was the first thing he had said. His voice was deep for a boy his age, and melodic. It was clear he spoke from a place of hurt, a place of sorrow.

I remembered how little I had to say after Mama died, how I feared the damage I would cause if I tried to open my mouth. I no longer resented the boy’s help or his companionship. That night I told the wind to carry his tale. To tell it to the neighbouring villages, and the trading ports and the towns beyond the hills. Tell them that a young boy sits by the water for fear of looking at his homeland. When I searched for him the next morning, he was nowhere to be found.

I asked after him in the groves. People were so afraid they would miss the harvest that they did not look up from their work. Finally a man with cotton-white hair came over. He held out his hand and introduced himself as the boy’s grandfather.

‘Taki will not thank you for taking his story,’ he said. ‘Though I am pleased to think he opened up to you. He has not spoken a word since the night the village burned. His mother and father and sister died. Taki only survived because he was helping me with the harvest. He goes to the water every morning at dawn and does not return until sundown. Not unless …’ and here the man’s face split into a sad smile, ‘not unless I ask for his help. Taki is not a bad boy. He blames himself for what happened.’

Waves reared and crashed to shore. Taki stood amid them with nothing but a light spray hitting his legs.

‘You’re a tider?’ I said, intrigued to see magic channelled through water.

‘Haven’t you done enough damage?’ Taki came on to the sand and the sea settled back into an ordinary tide.

‘I met your grandfather,’ I said. ‘He says you’re a good boy.’

Taki’s mouth twitched. ‘He is everything I have in this world,’ said Taki. ‘I lost my whole family in that raid, and all my childhood companions. I want the General to know my feelings, but what good is crying? Crying never made a difference.’

We walked past the ruined village, thinking to call on Taki’s grandfather. The day was silent. No laughter, no dogs barking. No sounds from the grove. Not the sound of people singing or branches being trimmed. We turned a corner and saw smoke tearing through the trees. It burned my nose and throat and filled them with the smell of burning flesh. Taki broke into a run. I ran after him, but the ground blistered my feet and the smoke choked my lungs. I grabbed Taki around the waist and held him down.

‘Mother Air if you have ever loved me help us now!’ I cried. The oxygen left the flames and they died like a snuffed candle. Taki directed the river water to rain over the village. People came, coughing and retching from the smoke. Every one of them held a white blossom. A small girl approached Taki and held a flower out to him. For the first time in my life the wind was silent. No comfort whispered in my ear. When I tried to call to the wind I could not find the magic inside myself. There was nothing left but guilt and hollow anger. The image of the burned dwellings seemed to consume my thoughts.  I thought to leave that night. I was an intruder in this grief, and worse than that it was my fault the general had come. Survivors told us how General Arun had demanded to know where the magi were. Not a single person had spoken against us.

A makeshift camp was set up. All evening I cut bandages and applied salves and boiled water above a fire. I spoke to no-one. As night fell I crept from the emergency shelter towards the harbour. I threw my bag into my boat and pushed it out to sea.

‘Where do you think you’re going?’ The water pushed my boat back towards the shore. Taki took hold of the mast.

‘Taki … it’s my fault …’

‘It’s your fault General Arun will not rest until every one of our kind is dead? It’s your fault the soldiers set fire to civilian homes? Girl, you found a way to defy a tyrant. That doesn’t make the tyranny your fault.’

‘But those people. They died because of me.’

‘Those are my people you’re talking about. They didn’t die for you. They didn’t die for me. They died for what is right and it is our job to avenge them.’ Taki looked at me and it was as though the sea raged in his eyes. ‘I chose not to cry because I did not want my voice to be shouted down, but there is only so long a person can remain silent Crying is for the dead of night. Crying is a heart-song for the people we love. It is not the way to defeat a person like Arun. Let us shout and let us rise. Let us use our magic to rally people to action.’

Taki was right. The general would never listen to our pain. He was not afraid of our pain. He enjoyed it. He was afraid of our numbers, of his victims getting together and using their magic to put a stop to his time in power.

‘General Arun will return,’ I said. ‘He will not rest until he has our magi heads.’

Taki took a moment before he spoke. ‘He has hunted us for too long. He has told people our deaths cleanse the land. Now we must stand against him.’ As Taki spoke I felt a breeze tickle the back of my neck. I tried to ignore my fear and guilt. Arun had killed our people. Not me. Arun was on a merciless quest to rid the land of magi and he would destroy whole villages and towns and kill every person who stood in his way. I reached deep inside for a place of anger, a place of vengeance. The wind howled around the ghost village. It howled through the burned groves. I hoped this wind would be enough when Arun returned.

The moon rose. By its light I saw Arun’s ship cutting through the waters. Arun stood at the bow, his sharp profile lit by a swinging lantern. As the ship turned I saw two white flowers in Arun’s belt. There were shouts. Men came forward, gesturing to the harbour. As the ship pulled nearer Arun aimed a harpoon gun at my chest.

‘Little magi,’ he called. ‘What use is magic against a warship? Once I have killed you, I will take every person who tried to protect you.’

In my rage I called upon all the winds of the world, winds with a hundred different names – bora and caju, khazri and norte and squamish. They came from different places, each forged by its climate, but they howled with the same rage. I used my vengeance to summon them in kinship. Desert winds stung my face while arctic winds came biting cold. My hair flew around my face as I gathered my winds together.

The waves crashed into the rocks. I met Taki’s eye and he held my gaze. Together we built our magic until a tidal wave rose from the shoreline and thundered out to sea. It curled over and charged. The clouds parted, revealing the moon. By its light I saw our wave arching over the ship. Arun’s hand faltered on the harpoon gun as sea spray lashed his face. He fell overboard. Powerful currents held him beneath the water. Taki used his magic to fill the water with white blossom. Arun drowned in a sea of his own making.

The surviving soldiers turned their lifeboats away from shore. They cried for Arun but no answer came. No command. The men who had looked so powerful as in the days when I peeked through the keyhole suddenly looked fragile. They pulled their oars against a swelling sea.

‘Others will come,’ said Taki. The sun rose, turning the sky orange. It reminded me that after every battle a new day would come.

‘We will rise,’ I said. We watched dawn rise. I vowed then never to cry for mercy to a tyrant when I could summon a hurricane.