written by Candy Gourlay
cover illustrated by Kerby Rosanes
published by David Fickling Books August 2018
256 pages in hardback including bonus material
adolescence & adventure in an astounding world
I have unusually coloured eyes: marbled green-grey with a rim of hazel brown. Each could be a pond in a wood, a rockpool in the North Sea, some strange well. Continue reading
Every Hidden Thing
written by Kenneth Oppel
cover by Helen Mirren
published by David Fickling Books 2018
358 pages in paperback
dinosaurs, adventure, rivalry and love Continue reading
Night of the Party by Tracey Mathias
Edited by Linas Alsenas
Published by Scholastic in May 2018
432 pages in paperback
Cover by Liam Crane
a thrilling post-Brexit romance
The Invasion: The Grey Land Book 2
UK Cover by @blacksheep-uk.com
Published by David Fickling Books March 2018
363 pages in hardback
teens taking on the darkest aspects of Irish myth
Unveiling Venus by Sophia Bennett
Cover art by Paul Coomey
Published by Stripes in 2018
400 pages in paperback
A Pocketful of Crows written by Joanne M. Harris
Cover by Sue Gent
Illustrations by Bonnie Helen Hawkins
Published by Gollancz in October 2017
233 pages in hardback
a fierce story of love, death and natural magic
Hollow written by Lorraine Cannell
available on Kindle
and in paperback
. . . a YA chiller with a spiritual twist
You’re welcome in the Beautiful Jungle – but do expect a few surprises along your way… Continue reading
When I go out on a jolly, I usually end up with a theme. Today’s theme was skulls.
I went to Portsmouth to visit the Cathedral. I love a good Cathedral, and one features in my work-in-progress (currently titled Georgiana and the Municipal Moon). I was on a gargoyle and grotesque hunt, so I walked round the outside first. I came across that wonderful 17th century doorway (detail shown above) – and a tranquil Garden of Remembrance.
I wanted to take pictures of the gravestones but a sign exhorting me to treat it with respect made me hesitate. Was it disrespectful? Grief is grief – two months or two centuries ago, surely? I reflected on this as I walked on the crazy paving made of bomb-damaged tombstones. I recalled the Ancient Egyptian maxim: to speak the name of the dead is to make them live again. I believe telling stories through words or other forms of art does exactly that.
Once inside I found more skulls. I overheard the lovely ladies in the coffee shop remarking on my photography later. It made me pause a little. Am I morbid, overdoing the Goth thing, death obsessed – in this and my writing?
I would argue that children and young people love a bit of gruesome. The bowels of Buckingham ( and his sister) interred there would fascinate most, I think. I recall very clearly finding an ossuary in Ireland by the Kenmare river and being both fascinated and horrified by the skulls at one and the same time.
But I think there is more than just pleasurable terror involved in a fascination with bones and the like. There are deeper issues of mortality. These can and should be dealt with in books for younger readers. The bracing comedy of ‘Henry Tumour’, and the powerful honesty of ‘A Monster Calls’ bring hope and strength to the world, not despair.
I have recently read ‘Constable & Toop’, which also deals with death. There is humour and quiet dignity, and ghosts. (They will be a subject for another post or two). But my point is that children will come across death at some point. Their pets will die, or their grandparents. Perhaps they will see an accident and ask questions. People are fascinated by death – and touching on it with honesty brings depth to a writer’s work.
In the midst of life we are in death.
Book of Common Prayer, Burial Service
Whatever your beliefs, it is inescapable. But in the same way as shadows are the darkest when the sun shines brightest, the thought of Death should bring intensity to Life – in this world and any fictional one.