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Branford-Boase Prize Longlist: Week 1

This is the first of my thirteen blogposts about the books on the Branford-Boase Prize Longlist. This week's books are Infinite Sky by C.J. Flood and The Poison Boy by Fletcher Moss. I read and reviewed Infinite Sky when it was published last winter, but I've only just caught up with The Poison Boy thanks to the longlist.

Infinite Sky

Infinite SkyInfinite Sky

A truly beautiful book about the summer that changed one girl's life, as her mum leaves home, travellers set up camp in the family's field, her older brother goes off the rails, and she falls in love for the very first time. Opening with a funeral, Iris is mourning the boy in the casket - but who is it? Sam, her tearaway brother, or Trick, her tentative boyfriend? Over one long hot summer, we find out just how their three lives were turned upside-down.

I thought Infinite Sky was an emotionally powerful and skilfully told story. It's a real-life coming-of-age story that deals with a whole host of issues. Iris finds an escape from her disintegrating home life, freedom, and first love when she meets Trick. The book talks about family, love, grief, and prejudice in a way that allows you to think about these things for yourself. My full review can be found here if you'd like to read more of my thoughts.

Infinite Sky got some well-deserved positive reviews in the newspapers too: The Telegraph, The Guardian 

It get a definite recommendation from me.

The Poison Boy

The Poison BoyPoison boy Dalton Fly, a lowly food taster to the rich, has a lucky escape after drinking laced wine. But his mate is less fortunate, and Dalton wants answers. Who murdered his friend and what were they were really after? With the help of aristocratic girl, Scarlet Dropmore, whose life he unwittingly saved, he sets out to rescue his city from the poisoners within.

The Poison Boy is a gruesome and blistering introduction to the murky world of Highlions. It has political intrigue, daring escapades, shady characters, secrets, and of course poison. A lot of poison. Dalton Fly is a tough, determined young man dragged into a deadly plot very much against his will. Luckily for him he has an amazing and long-suffering best friend called Sal. Between them they do their best not to get ghosted before they solve the puzzle of who's trying to gut highborn sentaways. Yes, I am now fluent in Highlions slang!

I found it very easy to get into this book and because I am gruesome I loved all the gross poisoning details. I also loved the mixture of male and female characters, with the girls every bit as brave and resourceful as the boys. Dalton's crush on Scarlet made me smile, especially as he's clueless about the 
whole thing. The whole book is really good fun and if/when there's a sequel I'll read that too.

I like this review of the book on The Bookbag website, and here you can find a video of the author reading an extract from the book.

I had a great time reading this so I'd certainly recommend it.

If you've read either of these books, what did you think of them? Or are you tempted to read them now? I'd love to know your opinions.


  1. I read Infinite Sky last year - it was good, and quite emotional, but I didn't absolutely love it.

    Poison Boy, though - wow! I won it in a competition ages ago and never got round to reading it, but your post here and Fletcher Moss's guest post on my own blog finally made me pick it up - why on earth did I leave it so long? I love the language in it and it's a proper adventure of the kind that don't seem to be all that common today - made me think of Susan Cooper in some ways!

    Really looking forward to seeing your thoughts on the rest of the longlist, and might try to keep up when I can!


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