ISBN 9780857532268

Lauren Kate's bestselling Fallen series has helped build a dedicated fan base for the author and they will have been eagerly awaiting her new book. Teardrop will meet all their expectations with book one clearly the beginning a powerful and epic series firmly targeted at those teenaged girl readers who were entranced by Fallen. 17-year old Eureka is devastated when her mother is killed in a freak accident. She has to live with her uncommunicative father and stepmother who, although caring, fail to break down the barriers she has built around her or to really understand what she is going through. Despite all she has experienced, Eureka is unable to cry. When she receives some strange artifacts left to her by her dead mother, Eureka starts to piece together an ancient tale of love, power and destruction focused around the mythical land of Atlantis, which seems to have peculiar links to her own life and experiences. She is helped to uncover this mystery by Anders, himself something of a mystery - a boy who arrives out of nowhere and to whom she is strangely attracted. The epic scope of the novel and its themes of love, injustice and a reluctant heroine are perfectly pitched at Kate's YA readership. 464 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Dark Satanic Mills
Marcus Sedgwick

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406329889

In this distinctive, thought-provoking graphic novel by brothers Marcus and Julian Sedgwick (their first collaboration), we visit a near-future world where catastrophic climate change and economic collapse have led to extremism and intolerance, which have helped a number of religious groups grow in power. At the start of the novel, several different groups - from anti-technology vigilantes to austere Christian preachers - are vying to be the key influencer. The True Church, which claims to have proof of an astonishing miracle, is on course to cement its place as the leading sect. Then a young dispatch rider, Christy, witnesses a murder and is swept up into a quest to uncover the truth behind the True Church along with her new friend Thomas and others they meet and help along the way. Central to the story is a journey the two make from London to Birmingham, which lays bear the chaos that the economic and environmental changes have wrought. It's a challenging story not least because it is so believable; in times of stress, extremism and intolerance set in. However, the title of the book - Dark Satanic Mills, from William Blake's Jerusalem - is a clue to the reader that this story will set out to expose intolerance, and to remind us that we all need to be free thinkers. Blake's 'Dark Satanic Mills' did not refer to the cotton mills of industrialisation but to the suffocation of the orthodox church at that time, and there is more information about Blake on the back pages of the novel. The sophisticated and engaging illustrations, created by John Higgins (Watchmen) and Marc Olivent, are a real draw and the book itself has been perfectly packaged by the publisher, Walker Books. 162 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Dark Satanic Mills
The Ghost Prison
Joseph Delaney

Andersen Press Ltd

ISBN 9781849397773

Billy is lucky to have been given a job as a prison warden in the castle at the top of the hill, especially as he has grown up in the local Home for Unfortunate Boys. However, when he is told to report for night duty at the request of a mystery person, what was already a scary job now becomes a nightmare. As well as dealing with all of the prisoners, there are the unexplained happenings and ghostly rumours, but most of all the most dangerous and mysterious part of the castle - the Witch Well - which can be ignored during the day is now a very important part of his night guard duties. Local myths and legends are the inspiration for all of Delaney's stories and the castle in this story is based on Lancaster Castle, and the Witch Well is a real area of it where the Pendle Witches were imprisoned. As expected by the author of The Spooks series, this is a well accomplished ghost story: spooky, mysterious, with a good twist to the tale. At 100 pages, which includes many large or full page illustrations, which are very atmospheric, this is a good story to read in a lesson as a Halloween treat, and with its setting being a real historical location, there are plenty of discussion points and areas for further work. 103 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Natalie J. McChrystal Plimmer

The Ghost Prison

ISBN 9780857532015

This is an engrossing, action-packed novel, that grabs the reader's interest from the outset. For over fifty years, the country - like, yet unlike ours - has been troubled by an epidemic of ghosts. Only the young are able to see and hear them; so only the young can deal with them. Enter our heroine, Lucy Carlyle. She is a talented young agent, but things have gone badly wrong in her previous assignment and Lucy is looking to restore her confidence. She arrives in London, hoping to join a prestigious agency, but finds herself employed by Lockwood and Co; the smallest agency in the city. There are only three members of this agency: Lockwood, a charismatic young man; George , his geeky assistant and Lucy herself. The relationships between these characters are full of humour and the hints at their backgrounds make them totally believable as characters. We follow the trio on one of their assignments, which seems straightforward, but where the suspense builds up and things turn desperate for the agency. However, they are given one last chance to redeem their business. Unfortunately, this means spending a night at the most haunted and dangerous house in the country! The horrors that unfold are skilfully built up and will keep you reading with trepidation! Jonathan Stroud's novel is packed with action, suspense and humour. It is easy to become engrossed in the story, drawn on by its fast pace. I cannot wait for the second book in the series! 453 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Jane Koszykowska

ISBN 9781444004397

This is a fast-paced story crammed full of action and adventure, and with a sinister secret society and even cyber-attacks thrown in for good measure! The book is the follow-up to Steve Backshall's first novel, Tiger Wars, and it picks up the story its two main characters, Saker and Sinter. At the start of the novel they are separated, Saker is deep in the jungles of Borneo, living with the Penang, an ancient and reclusive tribe also called the 'ghosts of the forest', while Sinter is working in a makeshift charity clinic in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City. Both are trying to hide from the attentions of the sinister criminal organisation, the Clan, who are determined to find them and exact a terrifying revenge. The Clan's leader is a real 'super villain' in the best tradition of fiction and film, and the scenes where he has our two heroes in his clutches are among the most exciting in the book. However, there is much more to this book than just full-on action. We can see a real friendship and understanding begin to grow between Saker and Sinter, as they help each other, and even end up saving one another's lives! It also has a strong ecological message about the damage human activity is causing to our planet, and how not only wildlife and plants, but also some human societies are suffering as a result. Sinter's adventures in the shanties highlight the huge contrasts in the lives of rich and poor people in the world, and we also get a glimpse of the corruption of some governments and big corporations, who put profit before everything else. As a reader, you find yourself cheering on Saker and Sinter in their adventures fighting these hugely powerful forces, but it also makes the reader think about what they could in their own lives to make things better. This book should really appeal to adventure lovers from older primary age to young teenagers. As I'm reviewing it at my desk in the library now, two Y7 boys have picked it up and say it looks 'mint'! Ages 10+ / 224 pages / Reviewed by Lyn Hopson, school librarian

The Prey
Andrew Fukuda

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9780857075451

I really enjoyed The Hunt, the first book in this series in which Gene and his small group of humans manage to escape the pursuit of the terrifying vampires. It was gripping, fast paced and full of vampire action - real vampires, not the soppy sort everyone falls in love with. So I was looking forward to the sequel, The Prey, hoping that I wouldn't be disappointed. The Prey opens with the pursuit continuing, with a few more vampire attacks to reset the scene. Soon, however, the plot starts to develop as the children reach The Mission, a human settlement which they initially see as a paradise in the mountains, with freedom, singing and plenty to eat. The more the children learn about the Mission and the Elders who run it, the more sinister it appears; why are there no boys or old people, why are so many of the girls pregnant and what is the meaning of the crosses branded onto their arms? Eventually their stay at the Mission comes to an abrupt and violent end; the tension builds as the children need to flee for their lives once more. Who do you trust when lives depend on it? Each of our heroes has to decide if sacrificing themselves to help others is the correct thing to do, or should they try to save themselves at all costs knowing that they somehow hold the key to beating the vampire scourge once and for all. 322 pages/ Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Melanie Chadwick, school librarian

The Prey
Sally Gardner

Orion Children's Books (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )

ISBN 9781780621494

The Carnegie Medal-winning author has produced another astonishing tour de force and one that could not be more different from the dystopian Maggot Moon and yet is almost certainly bound for similar glory. But perhaps we should come to expect this dazzling virtuosity from a writer also able to enchant very young readers with the delightful Wings & Co fairy detective series. Tinder is inspired by the Hans Andersen fairy tale, The Tinder Box, but richly re-imagines the tale and sets it in the real world context of the Thirty Years War. The soldier hero is Otto Hundebiss, who has lost all his family and friends to the terrible ravages of war and yet still fights for life and talks Death into leaving him behind, for even Death has had his fill on that terrible day. Gardner uses the allegory of fairy tale to discuss the evil and dehumanising effect of war and the ongoing challenge of doing the right thing. As in the traditional tale, the soldier has choices about how he uses his gifts and the treasure it brings and in seeking the hand of the pure and beautiful Safire, can he find redemption for his deeds and salvation for them both? The language of this dark, ominous and enthralling tale is rich and multilayered as are the absolutely exquisite illustrations from David Roberts which lavishly enhance, illuminate and extend the text in exemplary potential Kate Greenaway medal style. This is another book with so much value for class study and yet so satisfying to read for pleasure. 256 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Joy Court, Librarian

Sarah Mussi

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444910087

The book opens with 16 year old Leah arriving at school to hear gunshots. It soon becomes evident that a group of Year 9s, calling themselves the Eternal Knights, are on the rampage, killing staff and pupils at random. Leah escapes into the ceiling, crawling through air vents as she tries to survive and help the injured. The school is in Lock Down which means no one can get in or out so Leah is left alone to face terrible choices. Desperate to survive herself, to help others who have been shot and to protect her younger brother Connor who she suspects is one of the Eternal Knights, she tries to contact the authorities outside school who she presumes are preparing a rescue attempt. This proves a false hope and Leah is left with no choice but to attempt to bring the siege to a conclusion herself. Set in the near future, the setting is recognisable and a society where disadvantaged children are sent to prison-like Challenge Schools is plausible enough to be disturbing. This is a tense and shocking read. Told in the first person, the action takes place over just one day and the reader becomes fully involved in Leah's struggle as she despairs over the slaughter taking place in front of her eyes, the failures of her own family and the possibility of the whole situation being manipulated by organisations which should be protecting children. The violence is quite graphic and disturbing, so it needs to be approached with care, but it could be a compelling read for young adults over the age of 14 who are able to cope with such a dark, tense plot. The ending is particularly powerful and will leave most readers with much to think about. 303 Pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Karen Poolton, school librarian

Mansfield Revisited
Joan Aiken

Jonathan Cape Ltd

ISBN 9780857550705

Originally published in 1984, this sequel to Jane Austenís 1811 classic, Mansfield Park, has been republished alongside some of the other six Austen-inspired novels that Aiken wrote. Their republication also corresponds with The Austen Project, where established contemporary authors have updated her work into the 21st Century. Where this project differs from Aiken's work is that it transfers the original characters and plots into modern-day society, whereas the classic children's author keeps to the same writing style and period setting, but takes one of Austenís secondary characters into a new direction. So, with Mansfield Revisited, Fanny Price is no longer the heroine of the story, but has been replaced by her younger sister Susan, who at the end of the original novel had joined her sister at Mansfield Park. Set a few years after the end of the original novel, Fanny and her husband Edmund have left Mansfield for the West Indies, following the death of his father. Susan is left to look after their daughter and his mother and deal with his sisters, including the disgraced Maria, the newly returned Crawford siblings, and Edmund's brother, Thomas, the new head of the family. These characters are introduced in a way which reminds the reader of what happened to them in the original classic, for example Mary Crawford is introduced via a letter she writes to Fanny where she recollects on past events. However, I do believe that Aiken's title is intended for readers who have read Austen's original or at least seen an adaptation of it; a reader coming to the story fresh will not enjoy it. Aiken, most notably the author of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, was a recognised Austen expert, she even gave talks at both the British and American Austen Societies and as such you can feel the affection and care taken in this sequel. It is more like fan fiction, I suppose, rather than the feeling you sometimes get when you read a classic revisited: of a successful franchise being exploited. It would also be an interesting project to look at how one enduring classic novel is approached, revisited, and updated, by different authors at different times. 262 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Natalie J. McChrystal Plimmer

Mansfield Revisited