Every now and again you get someone who is the ‘black sheep’ of the family. But in this story we have the opposite happening. Young Robbie is the heir to the Sinistevil’s dynasty and whilst he tries very hard to live up to his mother’s expectations, it is obvious that he will never fit (both literally and metaphorically), into his dead brother Brutus’s shoes. The family are the most evil rulers that you can imagine, with a love of killing, looting and pillaging. At the age of 12 years they are made to pledge their heart to a jewelled sceptre, which re-enforces their desire for evil. Nothing gets in their way and there is no such thing as family love or loyalty. The problem is that Robbie really does not fit into this world. He thinks he is evil, but in fact he is a real softy and even has a local peasant girl, Layla, as his friend. When Robbie discovers that he has an artificial heart, after his mother had the real one removed when he was a baby, he decides to go and retrieve the real one, so that he can take the oath to the sceptre. What follows is a funny and yet sad look at someone who is desperate for love and affection, but who cannot see the reality of the family that he is growing up in. Thankfully there are people who want to help Robbie be the good person he is meant to be, although they have their own challenges in life.
What an absolutely magical story this is. I can’t imagine that anyone will not love Robbie despite the fact that he needs a bit of ‘backbone’. However, with the strong-willed Layla and loyal servant Devon, he is able to overcome many dangers and eventually realizes that he does not want to be evil and much prefers being an ordinary person. I think it is possible to come to the conclusion that we are not just the character we inherit from our family. We definitely see that Robbie has an innate goodness that even his horrible mother cannot destroy. There are so many instances where we wonder about the meaning of family; the Sinistevils take the meaning of ‘dysfunctional’ and then raise it by several notches. Some of the other characters prove that money plays no part in the way that family love can work and are excellent role models for young Robbie to follow. If you want a story of a lovable character, with the added ‘attraction’ of a really vile villain (hiss, boo!) then this really is the book for you. It is full of laughter, adventure and even the possibility of redemption at the end of the book.
“CHLOË PERRIN is a North Walian writer who currently lives in West London studying Creative Writing at Brunel University.
They love to feed crows, prefers Halloween to Christmas and was frequently told off as a child for reading in class. Chloë has previously worked as a youth worker, drama tutor and professional storyteller, having always believed that the best way to teach anyone anything is through a story.
HIS ROYAL HOPELESS was longlisted for the 2019 Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Prize and is their debut novel.” Chicken House website.
HIS ROYAL HOPELESS by Chloë Perrin is out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House)
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
This is an exciting and action packed series of books about a young girl called Emily Knight. The title that we are
celebrating is actually the third book, of what I think is going to be a quartet; at least that is the impression I get from the end of the book. I would however suggest that starting with the first title and working your way through is probably a very sensible option. The complex plot and relationships mean that you need to understand the background and it is book one that gives you this information.
The series is set in a modern world; but it is one made up of ‘Mundanes’, who are people like us and the ‘Warriors’ who appear to have an assortment of special powers and act as protectors to the ordinary population. Emily is the daughter of the most famous warrior, Thomas Knight, who had defeated the renegade warrior called Neci in a past battle. She does not want to be the centre of attention and feels the pressure on her to be like her father and elder brother, Lox, both of whom have cult star status; having been star players in the seriously tough game called Dojo. In books one and two Emily’s brother is missing and her father is on a hunt to try and find him, leaving Emily at home with foster parents and friends. By the start of book three the family have been reunited, but there are still many tensions and there is a move towards a war as Neci becomes more powerful and builds an army of followers.
This is definitely a series for those who love the idea of friendship groups involved in battling evil. There are real echoes of other popular series from the past, but as always it is what the author does with the basic outline that is important. A Bello has produced something that although familiar in many ways has its own distinct story and characters. Although we know that Neci is cast as the villain of the piece, I find myself wanting to know more about her back story. We are told how she discovers her powers and develops her hatred of the warriors, but I feel there is more to the story and I hope that we will learn more about her motivation in the final story. Emily herself has all the anxieties and uncertainties of someone in their teens. She feels the burden of leadership that is being placed on her and does not think that she can live up to the expectations. She is also going through the normal ups and downs of adolescence and dealing with her attraction to two of the male students at her school. With the reappearance of her father and brother she has to learn to cope with their personalities and to make them understand that she is an individual in hr own right.
It is good to see a series where there is a strong female central character and particularly one who is a person of colour. There has been a lot of emphasis on diversity in literature this year, but this author has been writing such stories for several years and we can see from her author profile she is someone who is heavily involved in broadening the range of people and stories in children’s publishing. I am delighted to have had the opportunity of reading these books and I look forward to the next title, when hopefully we will see the finale of this exciting series
A. Bello is the award-winning author of the bestselling fantasy
series Emily Knight I am. . . and Emily Knight I am. . .
Awakened, which was nominated for the CILIP Carnegie
Medal 2019, Winner of London’s Big Read 2019, finalist for
A. Bello first began writing the Emily Knight saga at aged
12 with the intention of filling the gaping hole in children’s
fiction for an inspirational, strong, black female, young
A. Bello won the London Book Fair’s Trailblazer Award
2018. She is the founder of The Lil’ Author School, co-founder
of The Author School, Hashtag Press, Hashtag BLAK, The
Diverse Book Awards and ink!
Find out more at www.a-bello.com
Follow A. Bello on Twitter: @ABelloWrites
Instagram: @abiolabello @emilyknightiam
With half term fast approaching, I am starting to look at sorting my reading pile for the break. At the moment there is “Dodger” by Terry Pratchett, “Oblivion” by Anthony Horowitz, “Four children and It” by Jacqueline Wilson and those are just the big names. So look out for what I think about them after the break. I will also be looking at the shortlisted titles for the Centurion book award, which means I will have to spend some time sitting in a comfy chair – it’s hard, but someone has to do it!