Nominated for: The Brockenspectre
Read: Set in Stone (BOOK ZONE 823.91 NEW)
The Brockenspectre: probably not as cute as this little chap!
Tomas’ Pappi works as a guide in the mountains of Unterberg, and has taught Tomas to respect the vile weather and fear the malevolent “Brockenspectre” who preys on foolish climbers. When Pappi goes missing after a fight with Tomas, the boy is wracked with guilt, at once determined to save his father and prove that he is just as manly as the man he idolises. Tomas battles with his fear as he comes closer to confronting the Brockenspectre and discovering the truth about his father. Is the creature responsible for his disappearance?
The illustrations for The Brockenspectre are reminiscent of “boy’s own” adventure stories, or perhaps the Choose Your Own Adventure books. Set in Stone is Newberry’s take on another form of genre fiction, the sensationalist Victorian mystery novel! Samuel is hired as an art tutor for two wealthy sisters, and finds himself falling for the eldest, Marienne. He becomes obsessed with Gideon Waring, the sculptor who was abruptly dismissed before he could finish the beautiful family home. Along with the sisters’ governess, he uncovers the terrible secret that burdens the sisters and attempts to take revenge on their dissolute father. All the usual gothic tropes are present, and fans of Jane Eyre and Rebecca will recognise the ‘gaslighting’ technique that half-convinces the protagonists that nothing is wrong at all. Newberry places her book firmly in the ‘Young Adult’ category- we recommend it to mature readers only due to its themes, which include sexual abuse.
Nominated for: Clariel
Read: The Keys to the Kingdom series, beginning with Mister Monday (QUICK READS 823.91 NIX)
The women in Nix’s Old Kingdom series are unequivocally awesome
Clariel is the fourth book in Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom series, previously assumed to be a trilogy! In the first novel, Sabriel is studying at a boarding school when she is compelled by her father to take up his fight against the living dead. In the second book, Sabriel meets her half-sister Lirael, who will inherit her necromantic talents (much to the relief of her cowardly son) In part three, the family team up to imprison an evil necromancer and in Clariel, Nix describes how one of Sabriel’s ancestors fell prey to corrupting Free Magic. Nix has been criticised for setting Clariel in a period that his books have often referred to, only to focus on one character in minute detail. Consequently, his fans feel that they have been denied a long-awaited prequel. Clariel is similar to Lyra’s Oxford– it adds flavour and colour to an existing story, but not necessarily depth. Nix still indulges his talent for world-building (we would like to see some of his costumes on-screen!) and allows some of his ageless characters a brief cameo.
The Keys to the Kingdom series begins when asthmatic teen Arthur is given a ‘key’ by a demon attempting to outsmart a God. When Arthur refuses to hand the key back, the devious Mister Monday casts the plague of sloth upon the town, causing everybody to fall asleep. Arthur must enter The House (the “centre of the universe” where anything is possible) to face the first of the seven deadly sins. Religious imagery and the legend of King Arthur combine in this ‘unlikely hero’ story, which has one volume for each day of the week! We recommend Mister Monday for fans of Percy Jackson and Harry Potter.
Nominated for: The Rest of Us Just Live Here
Read: More Than This (EXPRESS FICTION 823.91 NES)
What is life like as a ‘normal’ teen at a supernatural high school?
Whilst the ‘indie kids’ slay vampires, seal portals, put down zombies and keep humanity safe, the protagonists in The Rest of Us Just Live Here take driving lessons, prepare for prom and pray they live to the end of the week! The latest book by Patrick Ness (who won the Carnegie Medal in 2011 and 2012) plucks teens from the classrooms of series like Twilight and Teen Wolf and places them under a particularly bright spotlight. These kids are highly self-aware (one refuses to rent a cabin in the woods for Spring Break, knowing that this can only result in a massacre!) but still struggle with the knowledge that they are nothing special, and completely at the mercy of those who have been “chosen” to protect their school. Ness is adept at using a supernatural backdrop to explore themes like sexuality and mental health, and isn’t afraid to make fun of recent YA tropes like “kids beautifully dying of cancer”. One to read if you’re tired of authors cashing in on the latest trends.
Any review of More Than This runs the risk of being spoiler-filled, so we’ll keep it brief: Seth drowns, then wakes up in the English town he left when he was eight. He meets other children who also woke up in the village after dying in terrible accidents, and decides he is not in a “personalised hell”, but some place far stranger. The Info Store copy has a review from John Green on the cover: “Just read it”. We can’t put it better ourselves!
Sir Terry Pratchett
Nominated for: The Shepherd’s Crown
Listen to: Wintersmith (BOOK ZONE 823.91 PRA)
The “Shepherd’s Crown” refers to a fossil found in the fields where Tiffany farms
The Shepherd’s Crown was the last novel written by Sir Terry Pratchett during his battle against “the embuggerance”, Alzheimer’s. It is a beautiful tribute to one of his best-loved characters, the indomitable Granny Weatherwax, and a fitting end to the story of Tiffany Aching, the farmgirl-turned-witch in charge of a clan of miniature warriors. In Wintersmith, Tiffany summons the spirit of Winter, who falls madly in love with her. Though she meant no harm, the resulting blanket of snow threatens the livelihoods of those she loves. She must repair the balance without insulting the powerful spirit, and regain the witches’ trust. In The Shepherd’s Crown, Tiffany comes up against the Elf queen who kidnapped her baby brother in The Wee Free Men. The queen is under exile, and turns to her old enemy to help her navigate the human world. Tiffany also befriends Geoffrey, a goat-whisperer who becomes the first male witch (and introduces the men of the town to the concept of ‘garden shed’!) As the newly crowned Elf King moves onto Tiffany’s turf, she musters the witches with whom she has trained, and fought, during her apprenticeship. Can she fill the boots that Granny Weatherwax left her?
Nominated for: The Last of the Spirits
Read: Tales of Terror from the Black Ship (QUICK READS 823.91 PRI)
Pray for fair winds as you set sail on the Black Ship
Fans of Edward Gorey will love the illustrations in Chris Priestley’s Tales of Terror series. In Tales…from the Black Ship, a stormwrecked sailor named Thackeray seeks shelter at a seaside inn. The proprietor has left to fetch a doctor, but his sick children Ethan and Cathy allow the sailor to stay in exchange for stories. The terrible tales of cursed treasure, ghost ships and sea monsters form most of the book, which has a twist ending straight from Edgar Allen Poe. The Last of the Spirits is set on Christmas Eve, hours before Ebeneezer Scrooge meets the spirits of Past, Present and Yet to Come. Orphan Sam snaps and swear bloody revenge when Scrooge cruelly refuses his plea for charity. At that moment, a spirit appears, and tells Sam to watch carefully: he will show him what awaits a man who possesses a cruel, bitter heart…. Wicked and Maleficent are excellent examples of familiar tales retold from the villain’s perspective, but it’s rarer for an unassuming bystander to take the lead (except perhaps in Patrick Ness’ latest novel!) Add The Last of the Spirits to your list of Christmas ghost stories, or start a new Easter tradition!
Nominated for: Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death
Read: The Graveyard Book (QUICK READS 823.91 GAI)
The Children’s Laureate’s work can show up in unusual places!
Chris Riddell has two books in the running for the Kate Greenaway medal, and qualifies for the Carnegie medal on account of being an author-illustrator. Ada Goth, aka Goth Girl, is meant to be helping her father prepare for the Ghastly-Gorm Bake Off, but ghastly gamekeeper Maltravers has her in his sights… Highly stylised versions of Mary Berry, Gordon Ramsey and Nigella Lawson line up to present their puddings to figures from Romantic literature and Victorian history. References to children’s literature feature heavily too- Ada’s lady’s maid Marylebone (who has just received a marriage proposal!) is an awfully close relation to Paddington Bear. Critics struggle to decide exactly who Riddell’s series is for, as even the jokes aimed at children require an explanation (“that’s Frankenstein’s monster, he froze to death in the Arctic…”) But Riddell is a one-man version of Lewis Carroll and John Tenniel, the geniuses behind Alice in Wonderland– he has combined delicious illustration with irreverent comedy to create a book that is part pastiche, part pure originality. Riddell was partly responsible for the success of The Graveyard Book, which won the Hugo Award, the Newbery Medal and the Carnegie Medal in 2010. You can read our review here.
Muir, D Frozen accessed at https://flic.kr/p/pePAeZ on 22/03/2016
Santos, F Sabriel, de Garth Nix accessed at https://flic.kr/p/pMgFKW on 15/03/2016
Batavia Public Library Illinois Batavia High School Class of 1960 accessed at https://flic.kr/p/eW9CsH on 22/03/2016
James, S 1380 accessed at https://flic.kr/p/xxahVL on 15/03/2016
Lytle, D Kraken accessed at https://flic.kr/p/cKHorA on 22/03/2016
T_Marjorie Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights, Bath accessed at https://flic.kr/p/px3Sf5 on 15/03/2016