R. Healy – “fernhill gardener” (United Kingdom)

If this doesn’t get your son reading, nothing will! This is a rollicking, fast paced, action adventure with a believable young protagonist set in Anglo-Saxon Britain. Full of dramatic incident, every chapter ends on a cliff-hanger which keeps you turning the pages…. This reminded me of adventure books I read as a child; the sort that kept me awake and reading with a torch under the covers. Although ideal as a work to encourage a child to become reading-mad, it is completely absorbing for adults. (I am 57). I liked the sympathetic, though never sentimental, treatment of animals and children throughout the story. The author’s familiarity with the era, and confidence in depicting it, shines through. The events interwoven into the story seem credible without being invasive, although I am no expert in the period. I enjoyed the north-east English setting. There is a magical smattering of the supernatural which lifts the story out of the pragmatically historical and into a bewitching mythical world which is still recognisably our own. The baddie is horrid and there is enough nastiness for lads to get into. But there is a very beguiling, resourceful female character whom I am sure I would have loved when I was a girl. It leaves you wanting more, which is why I think it would be excellent to encourage independent reading in the target age group.