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Branford-Boase Longlist: Week 7

Here are books thirteen and fourteen in my quest to read the whole longlist.

Fearsome Dreamer by Laure Eve
 Fearsome Dreamer - Fearsome Dreamer
In the world of Fearsome Dreamer, England has become Angle Tar - a technophobic and fiercely independent country holding its own against the mass of other nations that is World. Rue is an apprenticed hedgewitch in rural Angle Tar, but she knows she is destined for greater things. After being whisked off to the city by the enigmatic Frith, Rue becomes the student of White, a young Worlder with a Talent that is much in demand: White is no ordinary Dreamer - but then neither is Rue. Both can physically 'jump' to different places when they dream - and both have more power than they know. Rue and White find themselves electrically attracted to each other - but who is the mysterious silver-eyed boy stalking Rue's dreams? And why is he so interested in her relationship with White? Is Rue about to discover just how devastatingly real dreams can be...?

I think it's fair to say that Laure Eve's Fearsome Dreamer touches on a wide of range of interesting and stimulating themes. By using three different voices she is able to play beautifully with ideas about identity and belonging. And that's barely the start of it! Fittingly the story starts with a birth, and Rue trying to learn the art of hedgewitching. I can't help but think that that's not where her true talents lie, she's not the most patient or tactful of people, but she has abilities beyond even her own vivid imagining. Who knows what she'll be capable of when her full powers are unleashed.

I think Fearsome Dreamer is a book of many ideas written with an ease of style that draws you in effortlessly. You should definitely watch my friend Lisa's brilliant video review for Fearsome Dreamer, she loves the book and is most passionate about how great it is! There is also an amazing Guardian 'by kids for kids' review right here.

The Last Wild by Piers Torday
The Last Wild
This is a story about a boy named Kester. He is extraordinary, but he doesn't know that yet. All he knows, at this very moment, is this: 1. There is a flock of excited pigeons in his bedroom. 2. They are talking to him. 3. His life will never be quite the same again...A captivating animal adventure destined to be loved by readers of all ages.

I'm having one of those 'I know it's just me' moments with The Last Wild, because despite my best efforts I just couldn't warm to it. I was intrigued by the beginning and was very curious to know what type of place Kester was in and why he was there, but the story lost me a little somewhere along the way. 

I like the idea of Kester's journey, and he is certainly on a noble quest. I also liked the different animals that become his travelling companions. I do struggle with anything that even hints at cruelty to animals, and I'm a long-standing vegetarian so certain parts of the story were a struggle for me (although there isn't anything especially graphic, I'm just hyper-sensitive). I did feel a twinge of annoyance at the necessity for Kester to have a strop, storm off and put everyone in danger - it feels a bit like an obligatory part of every adventure story for kids and teenagers. Overall I think it might have worked better as a standalone story; it is very much the first part of the story, I felt.

It might not have been for me, but lots of people loved it. It is shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Fiction Prize, and this Bookbag review is lovely.

Have you read either of these? What did you think?

Next week: The Mysterious Misadventures of Clemency Wrigglesworth by Julia Lee and Amy McCulloch's The Oathbreaker's Shadow.


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