Author Archives: kate

The Chronicles of Faerie: The Hunter’s Moon

O. R. Melling

Amulet Books

1904442714

Oct 2005

American Gwen and her Irish cousin Findabhair (pronounced ‘finn-ah-veer’) are sixteen, soul-mates, on the threshold of womanhood but still innocent enough to half-believe that they might achieve their childhood goal of finding a doorway into the Faraway Country. It is not the fairies at the bottom of the garden whom they seek, but an altogether wilder and more dangerous breed. Ostensibly on a bus tour of Ireland (parents have to be pacified in order to be put out of the picture) but in fact prepared to be more reckless in search of their goal, the two are quickly involved in a wild game of hide and seek where one of them inhabits a different realm from the other.
What awaits them is passion, fear, loyalty and friendship in unlooked-for places. In short, all the elements of a fantasy adventure but shaken up and given a new, female-friendly slant. I would have gobbled this up as a teenager (and have to confess that I gobbled it up as an adult). It is the first in a series, so watch out for more. Highly enjoyable, with a tinge of the uncanny and a large injection of teen-sized romance.

Charley Feather

Kate Pennington

Hodder Children’s Books

1904442714

Oct 2005

Think Moll Flanders for the younger reader, but if that description puts you off, then consider this simply as an exciting story about thieves, highwaymen, gang warfare and disguise. It is 1739 and Charley Feather has just seen Dick Turpin hanged. This is a salutary experience as thirteen-year old Charley is a highwayman too, a member of a gang led by the notorious Jack Wild. When Wild is captured, Charley has to run and ends up heading for London with the suave ‘Frenchy’. He has a plan for survival which involves playing a dangerous game of trickery, and Charley is caught up in it.
This adventure story is an exciting and evocative tale of loyalty, betrayal and characters who are not what they seem. There is a real historic feel to the book, enhanced by chapter headings in the style of the mid-eighteenth century. Chapter Two for instance is subtitled: ‘In which I find a poor billet for the night, reflect on my murky past and ponder my uncertain future.’ While details like this add to the atmosphere, they do not get in the way of a fast-paced story. The many twists and turns of Charley’s fortune draw the reader on and the setting is sketched with a light, sure touch. Very convincing and a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Mister Monday

Garth Nix ill. by Tim Stevens

Collins

1904442714

Jan 2004

‘He couldn’t believe he was in this situation. He was supposed to be some sort of hero, going up against Mister Monday, and here he was without any pants on, worrying about being bitten somewhere very unpleasant by Nithling Snakes. Surely no real hero would end up in this predicament.’
Arthur Penhaligon is a rather ordinary boy; much too ordinary to be any sort of hero. He has just moved to a new town and the first day at his new school is not going well. He has asthma, he can’t tell the ultra-cool kids from their opposites, and the PE teacher is making him go on a cross country run. When he collapses in front of everyone, surely things can’t get any worse?
Well actually, they can. As Arthur lies dying in the park, he finds himself in possession of a minute hand from a clock, and a peculiar notebook, thrust on him by Mister Monday who expects to retrieve them as soon as he dies. Unexpectedly he lives and becomes the target of sinister men in bowler hats while around him a plague erupts and threatens the population. Arthur is forced reluctantly into the role of hero as he enters the House and an alternative world. Here he is dependent on a scrap of Will which disguises itself as a frog, and an Ink-Filler Sixth Class called Suzy Turquoise Blue if he is to survive, find a cure for the plague and return to his own world and family.
Readers who are familiar with Nix’s Sabriel trilogy should not expect a re-run in this first part of The Keys to the Kingdom series. Unlike Sabriel and Lirael, Arthur comes from a world which is essentially our world. The fantasy world of Mister Monday is not the same as the Old Kingdom of Abhorsen. The good news is that if you did not enjoy Sabriel, it is still worth giving Mister Monday a go. On the other hand, if you loved Sabriel and are hoping for more of the same, you may initially feel disappointed. But ‘different’ is not the same as ‘bad’. There is a wry humour to the book, an active imagination and at its heart an uncertain, vulnerable hero who resoundingly proves himself up to his task. Well worth the read, and with the next two volumes in the series already published, if you get hooked you can move straight on to Grim Tuesday.