NEW TITLES

We are highlighting some fabulous new titles for readers aged 11 - 14+, selected and reviewed by librarians.

Witch Finder: Book 1
Ruth Warburton

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444914467

Witch Finder is a finely-tuned, atmospheric story that weaves elements of gothic and fantasy into an historical fiction setting of Victorian London. In the world Warburton has created, powerful witches rub shoulders with politicians and industry leaders; their influence is felt in every aspect of London life. Few ordinary people are comfortable with the witches' powers and some are actively engaged in ridding the city of witches. Luke, a young blacksmith whose parents were murdered by witches, agrees to kill a teenage witch in order to enter a 'brotherhood' of witch hunters. However, he has little idea of what he has taken on and when he gets to know his young victim, his task becomes that much harder. The story that begins as a tale of revenge quickly becomes a love story where duty and background conflict with the desires of the central characters to do the right thing. The stultifying climate of the Victorian era is skilfully brought to life by Warburton, with all the restrictions implied in one's class or gender, although that doesn't mean the characters hold back from the action. The detail that Warburton uses to establish the Victorian setting - such as the street scenes, the tough lives faced by the impoverished East Enders and the despicable conditions for the young match girls - are brilliantly drawn and always add to the story which is well-paced and thoroughly engaging. All of which will leave the reader looking forward to the second book in the series! 368 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Witch Finder: Book 1

ISBN 9781848531239

I loved this book from the opening sentence - 'Grandpa stopped speaking the day he killed my brother, John'. Few books bring you to the brink of tears before you've finished the first page as this one did. Jewel grows up in a household torn by tragedy. Her mother, father and grandfather are laden with grief, guilt and anger. Jewel's life changes irrevocably when she meets a boy in her tree also named John. They become great friends, each finding in the other someone with whom they can share their thoughts, fears and aspirations and feel free. John however is not welcomed by her family. Jewel tries hard to make her family happy, navigating the world of spirits, secrets and blame at home while also learning to trust and expressing her own true character with John. The story of the family tragedy slowly unfolds throughout the book as we learn more about what each character thinks happened that day and their responses to it. John and another near tragedy combine to bring about change and reconciliation to Jewel's family and his own. Jewel tells her story with a clear and honest voice which makes the reader love her, John and all those in her broken family and makes this a very special book. It is very uplifting, positive and hopeful despite being full of pain and heartache. It is such a powerful book, and could be used as a springboard for discussions on many topics; bereavement, forgiveness, love, friendship, empathy, guilt and even the nature of God. Anyone above the age of about 13 must read it. It's already my book of the year. 408 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Melanie Chadwick, school librarian

ISBN 9780857079381

My dictionary defines Dork as 'a stupid or contemptible person'. Nikki Maxwell, the dork of this series, is neither stupid nor contemptible. She's a tween trying to navigate the world of friends, bullies, school, embarrassment and boys and she makes a drama out of everything; pretty typical of the majority of young girls I know. In Holiday Heartbreak, the school valentine's dance provides all the angst. Nikki wants to ask Brandon to the dance but the evil Mackenzie is determined he'll go with with her and is prepared to play dirty to get him. With some nasty texts and photos spread round school, with many tears and arguments and supported by her best friends, Nikki eventually gets her man and is crowned the Sweetheart Princess to boot. Its characters and storyline will be instantly recognised by the intended audience, and with the diary style and many pictures this is a package that will appeal to girl 'tweens' from age 8 and is still attractive to reluctant readers up to age 13. 340pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Melanie Chadwick, school librarian.

Enders
Lissa Price

Doubleday Children's Books

ISBN 9780857531360

Enders is the follow up to Starters, Lissa Price's debut novel. This series follows teenager Callie as she struggles to cope in a futuristic and brutal future world. In the first book we are introduced to a struggle between 'Starters' (people under 19) and 'Enders' (people over 60). A big war has taken place and anyone not inoculated, (the majority of people who are middle-aged) have been killed by a toxic virus. It is a unique concept and produces all kinds of questions about a society that can live for much longer. Anyone under 19 cannot vote or legally work, as jobs need to be secured for the aging population. This leads to an even bigger poverty divide and many children are left starving and homeless. Then 'Enders' begin to rent younger bodies in order to take control of them and become young again, if only for a while. The real older body is held in a 'body bank' until the rental has finished. The body that is controlled has no idea what is happening to them during that period, but will they forget everything? How dangerous is the technology that allows this to happen? Who is The Old Man that arranges for these 'rentals' to happen and what is his interest in Callie? The book is exciting and fast-paced. There are lots of unexpected twists and all characters have something to hide. As the reader, you are looking for clues as to the identity of the bad guy, who isn't revealed until the end of the book - and even then it's a big shock! Issues dealt with in this book include: identity, ageism, prejudice, socio-economic divides, discrimination, and relationships (both friendship and family). This would be suitable for both sexes, but I would recommend reading the original novel to fully understand the concepts of the second book. 272 pages / Ages 12+ / reviewed by Sophie Castle, librarian

Enders
The Name On Your Wrist
Helen Hiorns

Corgi Childrens

ISBN 9780552569521

A gripping story based on an intriguing, original idea from this young, new author. Everyone has the name of their soul mate naturally written on their wrist. The names are guarded as a secret and people spend years searching for the one they are meant to spend their life with. Divorce rates are miniscule, and life is harmonious; after all, who would leave their predestined soul mate? To Corin, whose father has died and whose sister is mentally unstable, things don't seem so easy. She hates the name on her wrist, is determined not to search for him. After meeting the handsome and intelligent Colton and becoming more and more involved with him, and dependent on him, she starts to question the system and wonder what would happen if she ignored the names on their wrists and stuck together through love and in defiance of convention? It is a very strong story, with many threads to make teenagers think. Do we have control over our own destiny? How much influence does the government have over our lives? Should we be free to make our own choices and our own mistakes? How far would you go to rebel against a regime you thought was wrong can martyrdom, dying for a cause, ever be justified? This book deserves to be read, and should turn into a best seller. 261 pages/ Ages 13+/ Reviewed by Melanie Chadwick, school librarian

The Name On Your Wrist
Running Girl
Simon Mason

David Fickling Books

ISBN 9780857560582

Running Girl is a well written crime novel with modern twists. This story challenges the reader to look beyond hearsay and unreliable witnesses. It is told from different perspectives and this allows the reader to see all of the clues from several viewpoints. The characters are up to date and full of flaws; for example the main character Garvie is an intelligent but very lazy teenage boy. Garvie's teenage friends are well formed characters and introduce the dark undertone of drug taking and thievery to the story. This makes the murder much more complicated, as so many characters could be the killer. The story is not predictable and it becomes a real murder mystery where everyone is suspected. The character development of the police detective (DI Singh) and local troubled teenager (Garvie Smith) is very well constructed and their relationship is both comic and questioning of stereotypes. DI Singh is ambitious, yet in the end relies on Garvie to help solve the mystery. Relationships are an important aspect of this book. Garvie's relationship with his mother, who is working hard to bring him up alone, is often emotional and believable. The reaction to DI Singh by his colleagues is problematic and judgemental; the detective's abrupt personality often leads to misunderstandings. Race is also touched upon, with both the main characters discussing their Indian and Caribbean descent. There is a touch of racism, but this appears in a subtle way. Religion is mentioned, especially Sikhism and the daily prayers, and this is interwoven through the story as the motivation for DI Singh's actions. This book is for the more confident reader, but the gritty edge would especially appeal to boys. Other similar crime titles would be: Half Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer, The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd, Noble Conflict by Malorie Blackman, When I Was Joe by Keren David and Numbers by Rachel Ward. 434 pages / Ages 14+ / reviewed by Sophie Castle, librarian

Running Girl
Twinmaker
Sean Williams

Electric Monkey

ISBN 9781405264334

Twinmaker is both science fiction and thriller. It takes a number of more (or less) possible developments (rising sea levels, 3D printing, cloud communication and Startrek-style travel) to paint a picture of a world where a drastically reduced population no longer needs to work, as everything can be got from a machine, and can travel from anywhere to anywhere in the time it takes to dematerialise and be reassembled. It is this last development which provides the impetus for the plot, when it emerges that it is not as fool-proof as it seemed, and people can be altered or even killed by the process. Clair's friend Libby has been tempted to use this facility to Improve herself, and Clair finds herself in a desperate chase across country to try and save her, and humanity at large, from the consequences. Accompanied by the son of a man who has rejected the technologies of 'fabbing' and 'matting', and who has been killed as a result, she finds out whether she can be as resourceful and decisive as she needs to be to. A strange friend Q, who she only hears in the 'cloud', proves a crucial support in the final showdown, which also turns out to be the ultimate betrayal. I was thoroughly gripped by this book, and can't wait for the sequel. Recommended for readers aged 12+ / Reviewed by Elizabeth Bentley.

Twinmaker
Close Your Pretty Eyes
Sally Nicholls

Marion Lloyd Books

ISBN 9781407124322

Once again Sally Nicholls takes a completely different direction with her new book, quite possibly her best yet, which is difficult to say when every one of her books has been such a singular pleasure to read. We are a long way indeed from the mediaeval world of her last book, All Fall Down, but we do have a genuine historical character in this book albeit as a ghostly presence and what a terrifying presence it is! Amelia Dyer, one of Victorian England's most notorious serial killers, was a baby farmer. You could pay her to adopt your baby and if it died a few weeks or months later, who could prove neglect when infant mortality was so common?! It is thought that more than 400 children died at her hands. Amelia's farmhouse is now the home of Jim and his extended family, which includes a young, single mother, and is now the last in a long line of placements for the narrator of this story. The unforgettable narrative voice belongs to 11 year old Olivia who physically survived her first five years of horrific abuse and neglect by the mother she calls Grumpy Annabel, but who is inevitably psychologically damaged. Whenever she has ended up in a nice place with nice people in the past she has driven them away with her aggression and instability. In the flashbacks to her various experiences we are given tremendous psychological insights into the results of feeling unloved, unworthy of love and of living permanently in fear. This very cleverly crafted story masterfully overlays the harrowing reality of Olivia's life with the threat of the supernatural as Olivia first senses and then comes under the influence of the truly terrifying Amelia. The tension which results for the reader is almost unbearable as the level of danger for all the vulnerable people in the farmhouse mounts. This is a truly memorable read which will not only scare the pants off its readers, but will definitely make them think about the psychological reality behind of some of those abuse stories all too often in the news. Reviewed by Joy Court, librarian

Close Your Pretty Eyes

ISBN 9780349001371

This is the story of brother and sister, Aidan and Cass. They have grown up apart after Cass was adopted and Aidan fostered. Their early lives couldn't have been more different - Cass has lived happily with her middle class parents where she has been given the best of everything. Aidan was rejected by foster parents and his mother and grew up in care. Cass's secure world starts to crumble when her MP father's affair with a young intern becomes public knowledge and her parents split up. Just as this is happening, she receives a Facebook message from Aidan who claims to be the brother she hasn't seen for 12 years. This is the story of their meeting and the effect it has on both of them as secrets are revealed and lives changed. The narrative is split between the siblings. This works well and it is fascinating to see events from different points of view. Cass is young, sheltered and nave and ready to see the best in people while Aidan has been toughened by his hard upbringing but is terribly insecure and finds it difficult to trust people. Both characters are dealing with the effects of families breaking down and this is sensitively and effectively done. Various issues are raised and tackled in the book including class, race and the care system but this doesn't detract from the main strength of the book which is the characterisation. Most readers will empathise with both main characters and desperately hope that things will work out well. This is a compelling read which should appeal to teenage readers of both genders. 309 pages / Ages 13+ / Reviewed by Karen Poolton, college librarian