The Scottish (Young Adult) fantasy Riverkeep by Martin Stewart is a debut inspired by the rivermen of Glasgow and has already been compared to Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and Game of Thrones. Nearly sixteen, Wulliam is preparing to take on his father’s responsibilities as Riverkeep, tending the river and rescuing bodies from the watery deep. But when his father’s body is invaded by a sinister spirit, Wull sets out on a dangerous quest to find the great sea-monster, the mormorach, which may be able to save his father. This is a terrific debut, and has the feel of a future classic.
We all Looked Up, the debut Young Adult novel by Tommy Wallach of Brooklyn, NY tackles teen issues in a world in which the asteroid Ardor is expected to collide with Earth within two months. Four Seattle high school students try to determine the meaning of their lives in a society which begins to vacillate between anarchy and an emerging police state, between end-of-the-world partying and ethical dilemmas. Two months to discover what is really important in life.
The prestigious British Da Costa Award of 2015 went to The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge. This brilliant Victorian fantasy with a gothic darkness takes place ten years after Darwin has announced his theory of evolution, throwing both religion and the study of natural sciences into turmoil. The bright but underestimated daughter of an esteemed Anglican minister and scientist comes into her own when her father mysteriously dies and she investigates his death and his legacy, the chimerical Lie Tree. An ingenious and exciting (young) adult thriller with supernatural elements.
Part cowboy Western and part Arabian Nights, Rebel of the Sands is a thrill of a read with elements of dynastic conflict, romance and mythical djinns. Alwyn Hamilton’s debut novel is terrific fun and it is, fortunately, the first in a planned series. Ideal adventure for 12+.
The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler is the first in a children’s series (10 to 13) but most fantasy readers of all ages will love the premise of Readers in the dangerous world of an extraordinary library. Alice is sent to be an apprentice to Uncle Geryon and discovers that when she is drawn into a book she is literally living the story – and needing to develop skills to fight off the dangers she encounters. The rip-roaring storytelling continues in the even faster-moving follow-up, The Mad Apprentice. And the author is far from finished with his tales!
Beth Johnson is the owner of Boekhandel Van Rossum (Beethovenstraat 32 in Amsterdam). Beth writes about and sells a wide range of Dutch and English books for children, young adults and mature readers.