Curiosity House and other stories

It is a beautiful moment indeed when, browsing along the bookshelves, I come across an unfamiliar novel, when an intriguing cover draws me in and I find within a story that matches it perfectly. Though we are all aware of the proverb ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, it is an inevitably unconscious act for many people and often as good a basis as any for selecting which book, out of millions, is going to be the next world that we enter.

Browsing surreptitiously through the children’s section one Saturday morning, I caught sight of three new books whose covers packed an abundance of adventure, magic and even humour into their small frames.

The Curiosity House series by Lauren Oliver and H.C. Chester instantly struck me as a younger equivalent of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and a perfect fit for fans of A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, complete with orphans whose special abilities make their pursuit of adventure all the more exciting. There are villains, murders and secrets to be uncovered, all wrapped in the exquisite world of the famous relic collector H.C. Chester and told with panache by storyteller extraordinaire Lauren Oliver.

In the hit-and-miss world of pun-based titles, author Maz Evans strikes gold with Who Let the Gods Out, a rollicking novel that features Elliot, a boy who signed up for a wish upon a star and NOT the crashing landing of a Greek goddess. Nor did he sign up for a match with Thanatos, an evil demon of death, and yet here he is. The presence of Greek gods in this humorous contemporary narrative raises some big questions: are the gods ready to save the world? And is the world ready for the gods?

Lucy Strange’s The Secret of Nightingale Wood reads like a children’s classic as the story moves with poetic elegance, stepping back in time to 1919 England. Our leading lady, Henrietta (or Henry), is beginning her new life in Hope House, a place of attics, dark pasts and secrets. Loneliness soon creeps in until one day Henry ventures into Nightingale Wood, a place that will change her entire world.

These captivating stories, spanning a variety of genres, delighted me with their strong cover designs and excitingly original settings and plots. I will be feverishly pressing copies into the hands of young readers at the slightest opportunity.

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