Vivid, fun and chaotic, this book feels like tripping into a child’s imagination. At the same time, it’s a deeply emotional story about friendship and the bond between two sisters. Brilliant for younger teens and tween readers alike, this is Alice in Wonderland for a new generation.
The Sacrifice Box (Penguin, £7.99) is a dark and twisted horror story by Scottish-based author Martin Stewart, set in the 1980s. When Sep discovers an ancient box in the forest it seems to call to him. He convinces his four best friends to join him in making a sacrifice of something meaningful to the box, one that means they will always be close. They make a pact: they will never return to the box at night, never visit it alone and never take back their offerings. Four years later, someone has broken the rules and now the box wants its payment.
Stewart is a master at weaving vivid and visceral images in the minds of his readers and this book has no shortage of truly terrifying moments that will stay with you long after you have finished it. Definitely one to read with the lights on and far away from any childhood toys.
Muzna Saleem is just an ordinary girl trying to live an ordinary life under the watchful eyes of her extremely over-protective parents. She’s content to pass through life unnoticed and unbothered, so she is as shocked as anybody when she catches the eye of Arif, the hottest boy in school. As Arif draws her closer to him and his family Muzna becomes tangled in a complicated web of faith, love and responsibility that threatens to overwhelm her.
I Am Thunder (Macmillan, £7.99) is a startling debut novel by Muhammad Khan. Muzna’s struggle with her own identity and her sense of obligation to her parents is balanced beautifully. This is a poignant coming of age story about a young girl trying to work out where she fits in the world, and who she can trust.
Have you ever wanted to live within the pages of your favourite book? The Fandom (Chicken House, £7.99) by Anna Day shows you should be careful what you wish for. When the stars of the film adaptation of The Gallows Dance appear at a local Comic-Con, Violet and her friends are first in line to see them. However, they get more than they bargained for when a freak accident hurtles them into the dystopian world of their favourite book. And just when they think things can’t get any worse they accidentally get the main character, Rose, killed off in the first scene. Now it’s up to Violet to fill Rose’s shoes and try and get the story back on track so they can all go home, but the story keeps fighting back. A gripping, fast paced book with brilliant, well- wrought characters, The Fandom will leave you guessing until the very last page.
Laura Dockrill’s latest character Bluebell, aka Big Bones, aka BB, is all about celebrating a positive and healthy body image. She loves life and she loves food and if that doesn’t overlap with being skinny, well, she’s completely happy with that as well. Big Bones (Hot Key Books, £6.99) follows BB’s story as she stands on the cusp of her future, negotiating work, love and her own curves. This book is a love song to food and the acceptance of your own body. Following the rollercoaster of BB’s life through her parents’ divorce and her own journey of self-discovery is both moving and hilarious, although it’s also difficult to read on an empty stomach.