Midnight Pirates by Ally Kennen, reviewed by Marcus Sedgwick
Kennen manages to steer a safe course between the treacherous rocks of fictional impossibilities and unbelievable plot turns: she doesn't duck the question of "what would really happen", but sails confidently into even more enjoyably ludicrous territory. The success of this is down to her strong characterisation; Miranda, our long-suffering protagonist, is the sanest of everyone, but her brothers provide welcome lunacy, with Cal appearing to believe he should have been born in California in the 1980s, and Jackie a vortex of strangeness in the way only small boys can be. Supporting characters have not been skimped on, with many wonderful weirdos adding to the peculiar sense of place.
Kennen's book reminded me of another great adventure for a similar age group, also set on the Cornish coast: Dead Man's Cove by Lauren St John. As anyone who knows Cornwall will understand, both St John's book and Midnight Pirates are set in a world that resembles our own modern one, and yet in which unusual things are always just around the corner, waiting to surprise.
And isn't that what we hope for from a book when we're young; the proof that magic is really all around us? MARCUS SEDGWICK