My Lockdown Books: Sixty Six

In The Glass Swallow Julia Golding revisits the world she created in Dragonfly. This is more of a companion piece than a sequel, however, and tells the story of Rain. She designs the stained glass made by her father’s workshop but the law is clear: girls may not be part of the glassmakers’ guild. To keep her secret she is sent to the nearby country of Magharna, arriving as that society’s structure begins to crumble. She is rescued – twice – by the untouchable Peri, with whom it will ultimately fall to her to rescue Magharna. Julia Golding’s novel is engaging and thought-provoking, telling the story of believable and engrossing characters. A novel to be eagerly read by those who love fantasy and one that will persuade others to give the genre a try.

My Lockdown Books: Fifty Eight

Who to trust. What to believe. How to survive. These are the questions battering Jack Shian as he continues his quest to find his father. The Shian world is riven by treachery and betrayal and plunged into chaos. Will Jack rise to the challenges or succumb to his fears? The second part of the Shian Quest Trilogy, Jack Shian and the Mapa Mundi, is a twisting, turning, turbulent adventure. Andrew Symon’s fantasy world is complete and convincing, his characters believable and the plot compelling. I read the book in great chunks, unwilling to leave the action suspended without resolution, and am eagerly awaiting the trilogy’s conclusion.

I’m always happy to support small, particularly Scottish, publishers.  So I was delighted to be asked to champion this trilogy from Black and White.  I read the first volume as a favour to Paul, who then worked in marketing and publicity, but I continued with the series as a favour to myself.  Fantasy really isn’t for me but I genuinely enjoyed these and was very happy to draw them to te attention of others through The Scotsman.

My Lockdown Books: Thirty Seven

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel is a book I had to read and my heart sank when I saw it. I was judging for the Carnegie Medal and it was on the long leet.  This appeared to be yet another sci-fi/fantasy mixture, two of my least favourite genres.  But one of the non-negotiable requirements of being on the judging panel was a commitment  to read everything…

And one should never, of course, judge a book by its cover and when I finally steeled myself to read it, I was enchanted. It’s set in an alternative past (it feels Edwardian) on an airship and tells the story of Kate and Matt who are first-class passenger and crew respectively. It’s a fast-paced adventure but it’s also a character study and has a great supporting cast.

Now, I use this as my example to young people of how the only way you can judge a book is by reading it.  Had it not been for the Medal I’d have missed this entirely.  As it is, I enjoyed it very much and then went on to spend my own money on the other two books in the trilogy!