The past year has been dominated by vampires and the occasional werewolf, but the best youth fiction in 2009 had nothing to do with romantic bloodsuckers and their personal problems. Here are Young Post's top five reads of the last 12 months.
The Vanishing Of Katharina Linden by newcomer Helen Grant is a classy, edge-of-your-seat dark thriller as gripping as anything found in the adult thriller section of the bookshop. Young girls start to disappear in a remote German town and one of their friends decides to find out what is happening.
Katharina Linden is an enthralling and terrifically written novel, one of those rare youth fiction works that adults can devour with satisfaction. Grant's debut was outstanding, promising much for the future.
Philip Reeve is a popular writer who always comes up with something excitingly different for his loyal fans. Readers know they can rely on Reeve to produce a skilfully paced and enjoyable read that makes some, but not too many, demands on them. Mothstorm continues the adventures of the Victorian Mumby Family who live in a mansion that travels through space. Reeve's alternative Victorian era, where space travel is the norm, is thrillingly inventive.
There is a rumour Mariah Mundi And The Ship Of Fools could be the last adventure for the orphan. Let's hope not. The third part in the series by G. P. Taylor is well up to the bizarre standards of its predecessors. Mariah finds himself on a Titanic-style ship and, of course, all sorts of dastardly events unfold as soon as the ship leaves port. Young Mariah is no Potter clone, which is one reason why his adventures are so refreshing.
Tales Of Terror From The Black Ship is just the sort of book you want to curl up with in the middle of winter. Expert scaremaster Chris Priestley's collection of chilling short stories is packed full of atmosphere. The stories feature non-romantic vampires, tattoos that come alive and vengeful ghosts. There are few youth fiction writers who drive you so far to the edge of your seat as Priestley. Long may he go on.
The Young Post Book of the Year has to be Julie Hearn's superlative Rowan The Strange. This powerful story of a boy with mental problems deserves all the accolades it has been given. Showing a dark, adult sensibility, and full of compassion, Rowan is a multilayered, nail-biting story of a boy who is sent to a mental hospital because he hears voices in his head telling him to do strange things. Rowan The Strange is moving, uneasy and extraordinary. Teenager readers are fortunate to have novels of this quality written for them.
To read the detailed review of each book, click below
1. Rowan The Strange by Julie Hearn
2. Tales Of Terror From The Black Ship by Chris Priestley
3. Mariah Mundi And The Ship Of Fools by G.P. Taylor
4. Mothstorm by Philip Reeve
5. The Vanishing Of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant
John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com