THE OUTLAWS SCARLETT & BROWNE by Jonathan Stroud (Walker £7.99, 400 pp)


by Jonathan Stroud (Walker £7.99, 400 pp)

‘That morning, with the dawn hanging wet and pale over the marshes, Scarlett McCain woke up beside four dead men.’ So begins a cracking new adventure series from bestselling Stroud — and what a thriller this is.

In a dystopian Britain devastated by a series of catastrophes, the surviving towns ruthlessly cast out into the dangerous wilds anyone deemed different.

Enter resourceful Scarlett: outlaw, bank robber and seriously in debt to a murderous gang. Reluctantly, she teams up with oddball Albert Browne, on the run from a mysterious institution, and, like Butch Cassidy and Sundance, they flee their brutal pursuers — stealing and killing when necessary — as Scarlett becomes aware of Albert’s terrifying powers. Fuelled by black humour, this action-packed odyssey grips from the first page.


by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock (Faber £7.99, 256 pp)

There’s something both heartbreaking and uplifting about this intricately woven book in which nine interlinked stories of older teenagers in Colorado and Alaska gradually reveal the fragility and strength of adolescence.

Set against the backdrop of a devastating forest fire and the mysterious disappearance of a young girl, sisters and brothers, friends and lovers confront the reality of their parents’ inadequacies, the confusion of lust and the terrible pain of grief, sexual abuse and betrayal.

But there’s also the redeeming power of kindness, loyalty and unbreakable bonds between people whose love can make sense of the world for those on the cusp of adulthood. Although each vignette stands alone, the bigger picture emerges as the characters’ stories subtly shed light on the motives behind each pitch-perfect snapshot of complicated emotions.

BONE MUSIC by David Almond (Hodder £12.99, 208 pp)


by David Almond (Hodder £12.99, 208 pp)

This lyrical novel bears all the hallmarks of David Almond: set in the North-East, it explores the relationship between nature, history, magic and the power of music. When 15-year-old Sylvia is persuaded to leave her buzzing Newcastle home to spend time in the remote, wild village of her mother’s childhood, she initially rebels. There’s no decent phone signal, no friends and her parents’ marriage is disintegrating.

But then she meets beautiful, troubled Gabriel, who teaches her how to ‘see’ nature, to carve a flute from a buzzard’s hollow bone, to play music that connects her to the past — and to a strange, spiritual girl who may, or may not, be another, earlier Sylvia. Hypnotic and beautifully written.

To buy any book reviewed here, visit mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3308 9193 

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