I absolutely loved the first book in the series, “Evernight” when it reached our shelves in early 2020. It introduced us to a new world that we very quickly became engrossed in. I was already a fan of the author, Ross Mackenzie through his series about the “Nowhere Emporium” and was delighted by this strange new world that he presented us with. The main characters are the young girl Lara(belle) Fox and her friend Joe; both of them are Toshers and much like the ones in Victorian London, they make a living finding lost items in the sewer below the city of King’s Haven. When the country is threatened by the Everdark and the evil Mrs Hester, together with the Silver King, who rules the land, they link up with the Westerly Witches in an attempt to thwart their evil plans. At the end of this book we get the impression that Mrs Hester has been eliminated and that a greater freedom is starting to seem possible for the general population. But is everything really better?
In this second book we find ourselves nearly a year further on in time; Lara has just passed her test and become a Witch, whilst Joe is getting over the death of his grandmother, as well as feeling rather out of place in the magical environment. He decides to return to King’s Haven and the world that he knows, but he is asked to meet up with Rob, a ‘resistance’ worker, in order to carry out a secret mission. At the same time Lara is also sent south, to work with another Witch and find out what has caused several mysterious deaths. The friends make the first part of the journey together and end up helping a young girl, who is showing startling signs of ‘out of control’ magic. We have two parallel stories going on throughout the book, but we gradually come to understand that they are linked and that there are some deeply evil minds trying to destroy the witches and keep the population under their control.
This is an absolutely brilliant book and a worthy successor to the first in the series and whilst I am sure that people can dive straight in to this book, I think it is better to have read the first book, so that you are totally immersed in the world. The cast of characters may be quite familiar, but they are having to cope with increasing danger and a whole range of villains. We see the young people mature as they have to cope with the terrifying events that surround them. Luckily they have strong friendship bonds that give them the strength to carry on, despite the dangers. I absolutely love the way that the author has created a world that is so different from our own and yet it is one that we can believe in. The action is fast paced and at times quite hard hitting; the author is not afraid to show that death can be a consequence of standing up to the evil that the heroes face. The atmosphere really sparks the imagination and I can see the book being used in school to encourage activities from writing and drawing, to music and drama. It is yet another fabulous read for the older ‘middle grade’ reader and I know it will become yet another firm favourite not only in the home, but also in the classroom. This is definitely a five star story.
I am a multi award-winning author of books for children, including The Nowhere Emporium, which won both the Blue Peter Book Award and Scottish Children’s Book Award.Stories have always been important to me. I can remember vividly how I felt as a child, curled up in bed, eager to set off on the next great adventure. I became a writer for children because I love the magic of great stories and my dream is that readers will one day feel the same way about my books.I regularly visit primary schools, libraries and literary festivals where I read from my books, discuss the power of stories and imagination, and hold Q&A sessions and writing workshops. I live in Renfrew with my lovely wife and two beautiful daughters – though I spend much of my time exploring other worlds.
thank you to Scottish Book Trust, who host this information
I have been a fan of science fiction since my teens, when I discovered authors such as John Christopher, with his Tripods trilogy. Working as a library assistant when I left school gave me the opportunity to explore a whole range of genres and publishers and for Sci-Fi the lead publisher was definitely Gollancz (with their iconic bright yellow covers). It as unfortunate that for many people the subject became less popular as we faced the reality of moving into space and the area of fantasy seems to become the replacement genre. Luckily there has been a move back towards Sci-Fi at all age ranges.
Chicken House, 97890655436
The story is set in a future world where humanity has found that the only way to deal with the amount of metal rubbish is to send it in to orbit around the earth, where it joins the space debris accumulated from satellites and rockets. The heroine is Railey, a young girl who lives with her grandmother and has ambitions to be a champion drone racer, with the help of her bio-robotic gecko called Atti. Things have been getting more difficult as her engineer/inventor grandmother begins to suffer memory loss and making a living is even more difficult. When Railey is chased by a bounty hunter and thinks that her gran has been killed, she has to make a run for it; finding herself rescued by the members of a space junk vessel. As they uncover a plot to crash a huge ‘trash bomb’ into the earth, their loyalties are tested and they find themselves questioning the world that they live in.
The world that Gemma Fowler has created is one that has been completely overwhelmed by the amount of metal that has been discarded and it has become a dystopian place of those that have (and live in Glass City) and those that have not and live in places such as Boxville, named from the shipping containers which provide homes. There is a real sense that we should be treating this as a window into our future if we do not do something to change the disposable world that we live in. Scarily we have had news within the last week or so about a rocket crashing into the Indian ocean; very much a case of life imitating art! There are elements in the plot that take me back to some of my favourite films, with the drone racing being very familiar to those who love the Star Wars series. However this is a totally original take on the society that we live in. There have been several books in the past that are situated in rubbish tips and but this goes several stages further and shows us as destroying the space that surrounds us.
There are some fascinating characters who are trying to find their way in this terrible world, but I think that my favourite has to be Atti, the gecko. He is a mix of real animal ,but with the addition of bionic improvements, and he actually talks; above all he has a really positive attitude that you can’t help but love. The ending of this story resolved the danger that the young people have faced, but we are left with the slightly open ending, which allows us to hope that we will have further adventures as they start their lives as ‘Junkers’, cleaning up the space around them.
photo is on her website https://www.gemmarfowler.com/about