THE WEEK AT WORLD’S END by Emma Carroll (Faber £12.99, 320 pp)


by Emma Carroll (Faber £12.99, 320 pp)

If you’ve never read Carroll’s brilliant historical adventures, here’s an excellent place to start. It’s October 1962 and the world is gripped by the Cuban missile crisis, escalating tension between Russia and the U.S.

Meanwhile, in suburban World’s End Close in England, Stevie and her best friend Ray discover a girl, Anna, hiding in Stevie’s coal shed, who claims she’s on the run from people trying to poison her. The two children help Anna escape and, as their own families become more involved in anti-nuclear protests, Stevie discovers a powerful secret about her father’s traumatic death.

Carroll stitches together these threads with seamless skill and the message of using your voice as a weapon is more relevant today than ever.


by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, illustrated by Tom de Freston (Orion £12.99, 224 pp)

This first collaboration between the award-winning novelist and her artist husband is a triumph. Ten-year-old Julia reluctantly accompanies her computer expert father and marine biologist mother to a remote Shetland island, where he will reprogram the lighthouse and she will study the reclusive Greenland shark.

But we know from the start that Julia’s mother becomes seriously ill during this period — and this beautifully written, sensitive exploration of mental illness, fear and families uses the elusive shark as a metaphor for something that lies deep below the surface but could emerge at any time.

At the heart of the story is Julia’s friendship with local boy Kin, who helps her find her own life in the midst of chaos.

POISON FOR BREAKFAST by Lemony Snicket (Rock the Boat £10.99, 176pp)


by Lemony Snicket (Rock the Boat £10.99, 176pp)

All Snicket fans know to expect the unexpected and it’s never truer than in this curious story that encompasses philosophy, a mystery and Mr Snicket’s own life.

One morning, Lemony finds a menacing note: ‘You had poison for breakfast.’ Convinced of his own imminent demise, he tracks back the origins of each breakfast item — tea, honey, toast, cheese, pear and eggs — to discover where the poison originated.

Along the way, however, like a modern Tristram Shandy, he discusses life’s big questions and the impossibility of knowing any answers.

The book ends with a predictably unpredictable twist. What’s it all about? And does it matter anyway? It’s Snicket at his confounding best and it doesn’t come much better than that.

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