By Author / Illustrator
Everything with Words
Paperback / softback
In a dangerous land enslaved by the cruel Regent, where the Dreamers have the magical power to turn dreams into reality, Toby meets Tamurlaine, a strange girl who has lost her memory. To uncover the mystery of her identity and get Toby back home, the pair must go on a thrilling journey to the heart of the kingdom, the castle of the Regent A haunting piece of Gothic magical realism.
Shadow Town is primarily an adventure filled with fantasy and mystery. It is also a powerful thriller with psychological layers which become apparent towards the end of the book, enabling the reader to make connections between the protagonist's real life and the imaginary world he has entered.
The main characters, Toby and Alfred, a neighbour's cat, are living an unhappy real world life when suddenly they find themselves lost in a fantastical and dangerous land. Befriended by the mysterious Tamurlaine, Toby has to overcome many challenges to find his way back home.
Richard Lambert has written a striking novel about a complex and colourful land ruled by a tyrant and populated by many different people. Throughout his journey and despite the unhappiness and complications in his home life, Toby is driven by the need to return to his family. He encounters danger, darkness and threat, hence I'm recommending this read for secondary age students.
380 pages / Reviewed by Ruth Cornish, school librarian
Suggested Reading Age 11+
Shadow Town is an exciting new fantasy novel with many twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat. It tells the story of Toby, a young man living in London with his parents. One day a mysterious shadow appears from another world, causing disruption in Toby's life. This is coincided with Toby's parents splitting up and Toby is forced to leave his family home and move into a miserable flat with his mum.
As Toby is walking home from school, he notices the shadow again. Toby follows his cat, who is following the shadow, through a tunnel and finds himself in another world. Trapped in this strange world, from where the shadow originated, Toby must now find a way to return home. In doing so Toby befriends a very peculiar girl who says she will help Toby find 'the dreamers' who can help dream Toby home. But the strange girl has lost her memory and is therefore also lost in her own world.
In a series of strange events that eventually lead Toby to the dreamers, Toby becomes more confident in himself overcoming many of his fears and finding a new affinity for making friends and helping others, which becomes the message of the story.
Shadow Town is a fantastic novel for young readers who enjoy the fantasy genre. This novel has so many elements - other worlds, people with powers, strange people, menacing evil villains, and a cat who is the glue throughout the story. This book will engage young readers with vivid imaginations. There is a subtle menacing throughout the book as Toby is threatened by the evil leaders of the world he finds himself in and this subtlety makes it an exciting read. In particular, I enjoyed the ever-present cat who causes mischief and is the real reason why Toby is trapped, he amused me throughout the story.
At nearly 400 pages this book is suitable for confident young readers ages 9+.
380 pages / Reviewed by Joanna Hewish, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 9+