Darren Charlton

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781788951210

Winter was the only season every Lake-Lander feared... In a post-apocalyptic America, a community survives in a national park, surrounded by water that keeps the Dead at bay. But when winter comes, there's nothing to stop them from crossing the ice. Then homebody Peter puts the camp in danger by naively allowing a stranger to come ashore and he's forced to leave the community of Wranglestone. Now he must help rancher Cooper, the boy he's always watched from afar, herd the Dead from their shores before the lake freezes over. But as love blossoms, a dark discovery reveals the sanctuary's secret past. One that forces the pair to question everything they've ever known.

An action-packed and thought-provoking debut, for fans of Patrick Ness, Marcus Sedgwick, DREAD NATION and The Walking Dead.

'Fresh and compelling and totally immersive.' - Sunday Irish Independent 'A bucolic, intimate twist on the zombie/post-apocalyptic story... It's impressive how Darren has combined the pace, thrills, and gore you expect from zombie fiction with a genuinely tender romance.' - David Owen, author of GRIEF ANGELS

Librarian's Book choice

It's easy to think, when you start reading this, that maybe it's just another zombie book, but you would be mistaken. Peter and Cooper are two boys growing up in a post zombie apocalypse, kept relatively safe on their island haven until the ice starts forming. Peter and Cooper end up forced out onto the mainland where they encounter death and danger and also discover a secret about their island community that changes everything.

There is a new twist to the zombie aspect in this book which makes it compelling and interesting and which puts an provoking spin on not only the characters perceptions of the Restless Dead, but also what we think about them. Peter and Cooper also fall in love and find nothing but acceptance and joy in their community and families, which I found refreshing for a teen book with LGBT characters. The focus was on their love and bond and how they survive in this gripping thriller rather than their sexual orientation.

I'd recommend this book for children aged 12 and over. It's a brilliant and engaging read that will appeal to boys and girls. It has some violence and peril, obviously, but is very gripping and fast-paced and is a thoroughly engaging read.

384 Pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Jessica Locke, school librarian




Darren Charlton


In the middle of a lake in an isolated American National Park lives the community of Wranglestone. Peter is much happier wielding a darning needle than a weapon, but in a post-apocalyptic, zombie-infested world, his skill set is not always appreciated. Especially when winter comes, when the lake freezes over, and there is nothing to stop the Restless Ones from moving in. So Peter is made to go out and help Cooper - a boy he's always had a secret crush on - to herd the zombies away from their shores before the it's too late.

As Peter and Cooper's relationship develops, together they make a discovery that makes them question everything they though they knew about their world.

Wranglestone is a tense YA coming-of-age queer romance zombie horror survival adventure thriller. The world building is excellent. It's isolated, post-apocalyptic National Park setting is beautifully atmospheric, creating an aura of both bucolic serenity and claustrophobic threat. The nature of their world is slowly revealed throughout the novel. The characters all felt real and - especially the main two protagonists - had believable and satisfying development arcs. The central romance of the story was lovely and I really appreciated the way their relationship was accepted by the community, that their queerness was not a big deal.

It did take me a little while to get into the book - at the start, there were parts that were unclear, and I didn't know if that was due to bad writing, me missing something, or just needing to be patient until things fell in to place (it was the last one).

With the COVID-19 outbreak, Wranglestone now feels exceptionally timely and prescient, dealing as it does with a viral outbreak that changed the way people lived. I would recommend it to mature KS3 readers and older, and it will appeal to a broad range of readers - dystopian and apocalyptic fans, horror fiends, romance lovers and thriller seekers.

384 Pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Daniel Katz, school librarian

Reviewed by: Daniel Katz