The Hazel Wood

Author – Melissa Albert35997403

Age – 13+

Alice and her mum have always been on the move. Bad luck seems to plague them wherever they try to settle, and it’s only now that Alice is 17 that she realises there is something eerie about their particular bad luck.

Alice’s grandmother was famous for a book she wrote of very dark fairytales. This book is now impossible to find so she never got to read it. She’d hoped her entire childhood that she would meet her grandmother but it never happened. Her mother was adamant about never returning to The Hazel Wood where her mother lived.

Alice’s mum marries and they seem finally settled – until her mum vanishes. Was she kidnapped? Did she run away from an unhappy marriage? The strange things that have happened through her life manifest into even stranger creatures and events and the only person she can turn to is a boy from her school. Finch is ridiculously wealthy and also a huge fan of her grandmother’s tales.

After avoiding fans for years, Alice has no option but to ask for Finch’s help. He knows the tales inside out and she finds she is connected to one in particular. Despite a warning to the contrary, Alice knows she has to find and then search the elusive Hazel Wood if she is ever to see her mother again.

The writing is superb, the intrigue all encompassing, and the place Alice finds herself in – VERY Alice in Wonderland – but even weirder!

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The Children of Blood and Bone

Author – Tomi Adeyemi

Age – 13+

Orisha’s lands are made up of Kosidan (nobles and non-magical people) and Maji (those with powers to heal, bring fire, move water or summon spirits.)

But the Maji with their all-telling white hair and sometimes strange eyes have had their magic taken from them by force with much bloodshed and murder.

Zelie lost her mother in ‘The Raid’ that extinguised Maji magic, leaving her with an intense hatred of King Saran and his regime. But one day she comes closer to his regime than ever before and is drawn into a quest to take three magical objects to an island. This island and these objects have the power to bring magic back to their people. With magic comes power, and a way to strike back at those that have repressed them with tyranny.

With her brother Tzain at her side, she is forced to overcome her prejudice of their enemy and she encounters many unexpected things on their journey – including love. Can she get to the island? Will her own new magic be powerful enough to stir the gods or will Saran defeat them once and for all?

An epic 1st part of a trilogy, Children of Blood and Bone is a gripping African Fantasy. Told in the viewpoints of three strong characters, the story has great pace, power and intrigue as to whether they will achieve their quest. Brutal in parts with much blood spilled, this book captured me right to the last page, which left me wondering and wanting more.

(Fantasy, Series, Africa, Quest, Magic, Siblings, Romance, Power, Kingdom)

Meet the Twitches – Teacup House 1

Author – Hayley Scott36990726

Illustrator – Pippa Curnick

Age – 6+

Stevie isn’t happy about moving from the city to the country to be closer to her dad. She is a dreamer and loves watching the clouds from her 18th storey apartment window and thinking about stuff. Will she be able to do that in the country?

Her grandmother gives her a moving gift – a teacup that opens up into a dolls house. Stevie is also given 4 rabbit figures for the house, but she knows this is a plan between her mum and grandmother to try and make her feel better about the move.

When they arrive at their new cottage, Stevie carries the teacup house and rabbits carefully inside and sets them up in her new room. But one of the rabbits is missing! While she’s frantically searching, something magical happens!

The first story in a sweet new series. Think Toy Story inside a teacup house. With colour illustrations throughout this is an ideal early chapter book.

(Magic, Moving, Adventure, Danger, Garden, Series)

 

The Mice of the Round Table – A Tail of Camelot

Author – Julie Leung34455819

Age – 8+

Two stories in one that entwine as the lives of two kingdoms are at stake.

Calib Christopher is a shy, quiet mouse – nothing like his father or grandfather who were brave mouse knights in battle, and strong rulers of their kingdom – under the floors of Camelot.

Calib wants nothing more to be a honoured knight and carry on the revered Christopher name, but courage is something he hasn’t found yet. When there is an attack on one of their leaders, their kingdom is quick to blame the Darklings – another band of animals they signed a truce with years before.

But the clues left by the assassin weren’t left by a Darkling. Calib tries to convince the knights, but no-one will listen. Can he stop a war with the wrong kind? Can he discover who the true assassin is?

Galahad is a young boy returning to Camelot without his famous father Sir Lancelot. He is scoffed at by the other pages and squires who know he has been living in a nunnery for protection. He is soon banished to the kitchens when unsuccessful at early knight training. When he discovers a mouse that seems to be trying to talk to him, he knows that something important is happening. Can they work together to save Camelot?

A fantastic story! A cross between Narnia and The Knights of the Round Table with a quest to achieve, courage to find and epic battle scenes. Loved it! 1st in a series.

(Series, Knights, Bravery, Magic, Courage, Camelot, Assassin, Revenge, War, Animals, Mice)

 

Nevermoor

Author – Jessica TownsendNevermoor 1

Age – 9+

Morrigan Crow has always been told that she is cursed and she won’t live past her 12th birthday. She is blamed for everything from the weather, to a school fire, to the gardener’s heart attack. Of course, none of it was true.

Little does Morrigan know that her entire life is about to change, where she will be a treasured member of a household, a valued friend of other children and a gigantic speaking cat!

She is taken to Nevermoor (a secret magical city by a stranger who tells her she can be one of the privileged of the Wundrous Society. All she has to do is pass four trials they will give her. Although thought to be cursed, Morrigan has led a sheltered wealthy life, and she can’t imagine passing any challenges thrown her way. But the alternative is too awful to contemplate.

Full of magic, strange and wunderful characters, this just may be a ‘Harry Potter’ for a new generation of readers. It has its own ‘Voldemort’, ‘Malfoy’ and the world-building is gloriously imaginative.

(Magic, Tasks, Challenges, Friendship, Nemesis, Bully, Curse, Series)

 

 

Zach King – My Magical Life

Author – Zach King35069280

Illustrator – Beverly Arce

Age – 7+

Zach is home schooled as he is part of a magical family. But when his magic still hasn’t arrived at the age of 11, his parents believe he has beeen ‘skipped’ and the best thing for him is to go to middle school and learn to be ‘normal’ like other non-magical kids.

His first day at Horace Greeley Middle School finds him inside a vending machine in nothing but his boxers. But how did it happen? When an online video of ‘the trick’ goes viral, his new friend Aaron is keen to know how he did it, and for him to do more tricks like that. That’s not his only problem – the coolest kid in school has decided to make him look a fool – as often as possible.

When Zach does finally find his magic, it’s way cooler than he ever dreamed, but how does he hide the truth from his new friends when they are keen to see more of his ‘tricks’ online?

Zach soon finds a way, but has to face the bully, his parents and an alligator!

This is the 1st in a new series, made up of both text and full page, full colour illustrations. Set mostly in Horace Greeley Middle School, it’s a fun read.

(School, Bully, Friendship, Magic, Secret, Series, YouTube, Popularity)

The Wizards of Once

Author/Illustrator – Cressida Cowell34455798

Age – 8+

Xar is selfish, impulsive and full of himself. After all, he is the son of Encanzo, the King Enchantor. But he is the youngest son, and his magic hasn’t come in yet, causing him embarrasment and worry.

Wish is the daughter of Queen Sychorax, the most evil queen in the Warrior Empire. Wish is also impulsive, daring, and rebellious, but also caring and kind.

They are taught from birth that the other is a foe, an enemy, one to be slain if need be. But these two venture out into the darkness on the same night, breaking the strict rules of their forts. Wish is looking for her friend, a magical spoon that has run away. Xar is hoping to catch a witch. Everyone knows witches are extinct, but Xar believes if he can catch one and harness its magic, he will finally make his father proud of him and quieten his older brother’s taunts.

But there is something else out in the darkness. Something wild and evil, which throws them together into a uneasy pact to help the other. Not only do they have to face their angry parents, the something’s power has been growing their whole lives and they have unwittingly unleashed it.

Told directly to the reader, this is an exciting story about a prince and a princess unlike any other. Xar is a weedy, annoying brat and Wish has a limp and an eye patch. But both have loyal sidekicks who will defend them to the death. Xar’s magical creatures are funny and fantastical and Wish’s assistant bodyguard is new at the job and trying to be brave. Full of mystical pencil sketching illustrations, this was a great read with an unanswered question at the end – who is narrating the story?

(Courage, Bravery, Wizards, Witches, Magic, Warrior, Friends, Magical Creatures, Series, Scary, Humour)