What we thought:
This is an exceptional debut novel. The characters are well drawn, it’s easy to empathise with them, and the threats are very real, even though this is a fantasy novel.
This Young Adult fiction book was highly recommended to me, when I was looking to broaden my knowledge of LGBTQ fiction. It is a book that will hook you from the start and keep you with it to the very end.
Lis London arrives in Hollow Pike, Yorkshire to live with her older sister. She was bullied at her school in Wales and needs a new start.
The village of Hollow Pike has ancient connections with witchcraft. Everyone has a tale to tell about witches that were murdered in the nearby forest long ago. In a series of nightmares, Lis dreams she is being chased by a killer through the woods.
She tries to ignore the dreams, but when a girl from her class is found murdered in the forest, Lis fears she will be next. Her class friend Danny becomes her confidant, but then maybe he knows more about macabre events than he is telling her. Lis doesn't know who to trust anymore.
Juno Dawson creates very real characters, set in a very scary story of mystery and witchcraft. At the same time, she deals with the issue of teenage bullying and homophobia in a way that is both low-key and thought provoking.
When you learn that Juno Dawson was once a teacher, and spent a lot of time tackling bullying and homophobia in schools, you can understand why much in this novel rings true.
Dawson was awarded the title Queen of Teen in 2014, voted for by thousands of teenage readers. At the time, Juno was James Dawson, so until the reprints come, you will need to look for this title under her previous name.
You’ll enjoy this if you like: Alan Garner, J. K. Rowling
Avoid if you don’t like: Fantasy
Ideal accompaniments: A large bar of dark chocolate on a dark night
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBTQ
Available from Amazon