THE PRIMROSE RAILWAY CHILDREN by Jacqueline Wilson (Puffin £12.99, 512 pp)
THE PRIMROSE RAILWAY CHILDREN
by Jacqueline Wilson (Puffin £12.99, 512 pp)
It’s a brave author who reimagines E. Nesbit’s classic The Railway Children, but this thoroughly modern update by Jacqueline Wilson is a delight.
The narrator is Phoebe, the youngest of three siblings, who worships her former TV star father and is angry and confused when she, her brother and her sister are whisked off to a run-down, remote country cottage by their mother. Their father has disappeared and, forced to live frugally, their only entertainment is a vintage steam railway.
Wilson follows the original (although red petticoats are replaced by Manchester United shirts!) but shifts the balance to highlight the difference between Phoebe’s mother’s shouldering of family responsibilities and her father’s unrealistic dreams.
Underpinning everything is Phoebe’s touching emotional journey towards understanding that even the most loving parents can be flawed.
FIREBORN by Aisling Fowler (HarperCollins £12.99 432 pp)
by Aisling Fowler (HarperCollins £12.99 432 pp)
This remarkable debut pulsates with energy as it introduces a resourceful but troubled young heroine with a tragic history. Twelve has taken the pledge to leave behind her past to become a Huntling, a trainee warrior dedicated to protecting the seven clans divided by the Dark War.
But when another student, Seven, is snatched by evil goblins, Twelve sets out to rescue her — discovering almost unbearable truths about her own family’s fate en route.
The first in a series, this wildly imaginative fantasy is packed with memorable characters (including an endearing squirrel), and strips bare Twelve’s suppressed emotions of guilt, grief and forgiveness.
ENDGAME by Malorie Blackman (Penguin £14.99, 480 pp)
by Malorie Blackman (Penguin £14.99, 480 pp)
It’s been 20 years since Malorie Blackman launched her ground-breaking Noughts And Crosses series and this, its sixth full-length book, brings to a close the story of Sephy and Callie Rose.
Sephy’s son Troy has been kidnapped along with Liberty Jackman, daughter of the first Nought Prime Minister, Tobey Durbridge. The ransom message demands that Tobey confess to the murder of unsavoury Dan Jeavons, found stabbed at a dinner party attended by the PM.
In a tense, twisty plot, ruthless characters betray one another and old grievances (and loves) are played out against a political backdrop of racial injustice, a referendum, vaccine deniers and drug trafficking. Fans will be bereft, but it’s a powerful resolution to an extraordinary, brave sequence.
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