The Best Young Adult Fiction for Easter

These novels offer intrigue, romance and swashbuckling adventure, writes Maggie Still

In A Season for Scandal by Laura Wood (Scholastic, £8.99) Marigold Bloom runs a successful family flower business, but when her fiancé breaks off their engagement both her business and the security of her home is put at risk. A chance encounter in the library, however, introduces Marigold to the Aviary, a secret agency of women who, in a Victorian Britain in which the odds seem stacked against women, specialise in blackmailing troublesome men. You can’t help falling for Marigold with her strong independent nature as she becomes the latest recruit to the Aviary and takes on her first investigation, and a thrilling adventure ensues, taking from London to the wilds of Yorkshire. This may be part of a series, but the story stands alone as a brilliant, fun-filled romp.

When school good girl Mel hooks up with Sid the slacker on New Year’s Eve, they find themselves bound together by a little bundle of cells they didn’t plan. Little Bang by Kelly McCaughrain (Walker Books, £8.99) is set in Belfast in 2018. Abortion is illegal, but Mel dreamt of Cambridge and Sid is only 16. This is a beautifully written romance that pulls you in different directions as the young couple face pressure from family, society, religion and each other. You share Mel’s turmoil as her body changes and her family start planning for the baby. Sid drops out of school and gets two jobs to save money but manages to fall out with his mum in the process. Told from both Sid and Mel’s point of view this emotional story exposes how unfair the world can be while celebrating the strength we can find when we need it.

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That Self Same Metal by Brittany N Williams (Faber, £8.99) is as exciting as some of the Shakespeare plays its characters act in. Joan Sands is the swordsmith at the Globe Theatre, in charge of the blades and the sword fighting. Gifted with a magical touch for metal she is brave, loyal and beautiful. In this magical adventure, a long-held pact is broken, leaving London at the mercy of the Fae and their power-hungry leader. Joan and her twin brother must fight to save the people they love as magical forces run wild through the streets. This is a swashbuckling adventure that takes you deep inside the heart of Shakespeare’s London – a thrilling read you won’t want to put down.

Northern Soul by Phil Earle (Barrington Stoke, £7.99) is a funny and at times cringeworthy book that follows Marv as he experiences his first real crush. Marv somehow summons up the help of a musical idol to help him negotiate the minefield of dating, with hilarious and very real consequences. Following instructions that are meant to help him win the girl, Marv always seem to end up saying the wrong thing or making the wrong move. You feel his embarrassment, his confusion and ultimately his realisation that talking to girls you have a crush on is almost impossible when emotions control your body. A laugh-out-loud story of first love and friendship.

In Running Away for Beginners by Mark Illis (Scholastic, £8.99) everything changes the moment Jasper is diagnosed with cancer, but his parents want him to continue with life as normal. That means going to school, playing sports and doing homework. Jasper doesn’t want that, so his best friends help him come up with an escape plan. The four friends run away with a dog, some sandwiches and very little money, not knowing what they are looking for, only that they will find it together. Their journey is full of trials and surprises, but Jasper is keeping his real plan secret. This story is inspired by the author’s own experience of cancer as a teenager, and it’s funny, heartfelt and ultimately hopeful.