Reviews: Books for younger readers

Last updated 11:45 24/06/2014

The Princess and the Foal
By Stacy Gregg (HarperCollins, RRP $25)

Reviewed by Naida Mulligan

Stacy Gregg's young fans would have been delighted when this book was released late last year. Gregg has written two successful series of books for horse lovers, but this is a stand-alone.

Interested in using Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan as a character in one of her books, Gregg soon realised the princess was worthy to be the protagonist in her own novel.

And what a story. Much is fiction, of course, but the basic facts follow the real life of this princess: The tragic loss of her mother when she was little, the horse which made her smile again and her amazing record-breaking feats as a horsewoman.

The story might make you cry, but it'll be worth it.

Thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommended.

Last Stand of the Dead Men
By Derek Landy (HarperCollins, RRP $25)

Reviewed by F Mulligan

Last Stand of the Dead Men is the latest in the Skullduggery Pleasant series. Skullduggery is a living skeleton who is part of a shadowy world of magic hidden amongst us ordinary humans.

His blend of magic and fighting skills have served him well in helping to keep this hidden society safe, especially his home sanctuary in Ireland.

Disharmony amongst different sanctuaries (safe havens for the various witches, mages and similar) is threatening to break into open warfare. Added to this is the increasing fear of the warlocks trying to seize power.

In a classic tale of evil versus worse, Skullduggery must reunite with his former colleagues in their combat unit known as the Dead Men. Together with new recruit Steph Valkyrie, they may be facing their biggest challenge both from without and from within.

This is an odd blend of storytelling styles. Plenty of action, magic and imagination with comedic interludes. Aimed at the burgeoning teen spooky spells and sorcery market, it has some good plotting and action but I felt the comedic repartee unnecessary.

Ranger's Apprentice - The Royal Ranger
By John Flanagan (Random House, RRP $23)

Reviewed by Conal Mulligan

Horace and Cassandra don't know what to do with their daughter because she is so troublesome, sneaking into the forest at night to catch game.

It is 15 years since the last book and in this story Will takes Maddy on as his apprentice.

When a fellow Ranger is found dead, Will and Maddy are sent to investigate. In doing so they uncover a slave trade.

I've already read this book twice. It's the last in the Ranger's Apprentice series.

Most 10-to-11-year-olds should enjoy it. I give it 10 out of 10.

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