Impossible Creatures

Bloomsbury £14.99, 368pp

by Katherine Rundell

(Bloomsbury £14.99, 368pp)

Rundell is an extraordinary writer and this first in a fantasy trilogy grips, thrills and moves — sometimes to tears.

While staying with his grandfather in Scotland, Christopher sees a stampede of mythical creatures and learns that his grandfather is the guardian of a portal into the magical Archipelago where these beasts live.

But the boundary between worlds is weakening. Then Mal, a flying girl, arrives from the Islands fleeing a terrifying murderer, and together the children set out to discover who has penetrated the magic’s ancient centre. But the price to be paid is heartbreaking. This richly-imagined story is packed with memorable characters — and an unforgettable griffin.

Yours From the Tower

Andersen Press £14.99, 368pp

by Sally Nicholls

(Andersen Press £14.99, 368pp)

Nicholls’ award-winning young adult novels conjure up the confusion and passion of adolescence — and never more so than in this thrilling, cleverly constructed story.

It is written as letters between three schoolgirls on the cusp of adulthood, separated over the summer of 1896. Melodramatic Tirzah is ‘imprisoned’ with her harsh grandmother in Scotland, worthy Polly is teaching in an orphanage, and Sophia is ‘out’ in the London season looking for a rich husband while being pursued by a feckless admirer.

Against a backdrop of feminist frustration, Nicholls balances their contrasting characters with delightful wit and warmth. I loved it.

In the Shadow of the Wolf Queen

Orion £14.99, 320pp

by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

(Orion £14.99, 320pp)

Another fantasy trilogy launches steeped in the natural world and the power of sisterly love. Orphaned Ysolda roams the Celtic forest with her sea hawk, Nara, aware of the threat of the mysterious Wolf Queen, but oblivious to danger, until an earthquake tears a rift in the village and her older sister Hari ‘disappears’.

Desperate to find her, Ysolda embarks on a journey where she finds herself blackmailed into an alliance with the Wolf Queen, who promises to release Hari if Ysolda takes her to the End-World Wood where a threat to the queen’s rule lurks.

Part natural phenomenon, part myth, this immersive adventure is luscious and dark.

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