Tag Archives: Book Reviews

An Oath becomes a Curse

An Oath becomes a Curse

Shadow's Curse


Shadow’s Curse is Amy McCulloch’s sequel to Oathbreaker’s Shadow. Raim is in the impossible position of being bound by a magical oath to protect the Khan who has taken the person he cares most about; Wadi.

He has to find a way to keep his promises or be cursed forever but, in order to do that, he must first of all discover the truth about his past…

Click here to read a review of Oathbreaker’s Shadow by the library staff.

Hogwarts, mysterious turret rooms and creepy dolls

Hogwarts, mysterious turret rooms and creepy dolls


On 7th May we were delighted to welcome Frances Hardinge to come and talk to some Year 8 and 9 classes in the Girls’ Division. She told us about her Carnegie nominated book Cuckoo Song and newly published book (on the day of the event) The Lie Tree.  We were also joined by students from Turton School, Smithills School and Bolton Muslim Girls School.

The event was kindly organised by Ebb & Flo books in Chorley and Macmillan Publishers. Unfortunately we weren’t able to offer the event to all students due to exam timetabling. We’re sorry if you missed out but it is still possible to borrow the books, please ask in the Library for more information. A full write up of the event can be found here.

Whilst she was here I showed Frances around the School, she later tweeted that it was ‘Hogwarts.’ I told her about the Turret Library and the mysterious unknown room with a window above the Library. Since Frances gets her ideas from ‘everywhere’ I suggest we watch this space to see if the School appears in a parallel universe next time!

If you haven’t yet read the books I’d like to encourage you to do so. The Lie Tree is a creepy murder mystery set in 19th Century England where the main character, Faith, is a feisty girl challenges the constraints of Victorian femininity. The idea of the Lie Tree is particularly interesting as unlike in other stories, lies are not ‘punished’ or seen as necessarily ‘wrong’ and instead are used to unmask the killer.

I’m part-way through Cuckoo Song and have already decided it’s not a good book to read just as I go to sleep. If you’re a fan of Dr Who, you’ll enjoy Frances Hardinge- she uses the same malevolent twisting of reality, with porcelain, speaking dolls and doppelgangers. Earlier books feature glass-like faces where characters can only speak the truth and vindictive fairies that demand that children who use the coins from a magic well grant everyone’s wishes…

‘The Mangle Street Murders’ by M.R.C. Kasasian

‘The Mangle Street Murders’ by M.R.C. Kasasian

Mangle Street Murders


Set in a Victorian London where modern forensic detective work is still developing, the Gower Street Detective, as Sidney Grice is known, has a distinctly Sherlock Holmes feel. Unlike Conan Doyle, however, Kasasian does include the more violent scenes as well as the deductive logic of the crime scene!

The book rather cleverly sets itself up as the ‘true’ events that inspired the ‘fictional’ Sherlock Holmes stories. The introduction is based in the future with March Middleton, Grice’s ‘Watson’, explaining that she is setting the record straight. Fans of Sherlock will enjoy stumbling across the occassional reference, but the ‘Gower Street Detective’ will appeal to all lovers of the crime genre, as well as anyone looking for something that little bit out of the ordinary.

The tale continues in The Curse of the House of Foskett, which can be found, alongside Mangle Street Murders, in the Boys’ Senior Library.

‘Odysseus: The Oath’ by Valerio Massimo Manfredi

‘Odysseus: The Oath’ by Valerio Massimo Manfredi

Odysseus The Oath‘You’ve never told me about the treasure. What was it?’

‘Ask Phemius. He’s our poet, isn’t he? He’ll tell you a wonderful story.’

‘I want the true one.’

‘Are you sure? The truth isn’t so interesting…’

‘For me it is.’


This passage sums up the essence of Manfredi’s novel about the life of Odysseus up to the fall of Troy. It cleverly takes Homer’s Illiad and creates a scenario that could have been an historical event. The author has even managed to incorporate the belief system of the time, with explanations to events that men, like Odysseus, may well have believed to be the case. This adds an extra dimension to the tale.

The book works on a number of levels that will appeal to different audiences. The classisist would appreciate the strains of the Illiad that run throughout, whilst it is also a good story for lovers of historical fiction. The Oath is also a good action/adventure story for those who like the genre and want to try something different.

If you find yourself enjoying The Oath, which is available in the Boys’ Senior Library, there is a sequal, called The Return, which promises to follow the lines of Homer’s other epic; the Odyssey. It is currently on order for the Senior Library.

For something similar I would also recommend David Gemmell’s ‘Lord of the Silver Bow’ trilogy, which tells the story of the fall of Troy from the Dardanean prince Aeneas‘ point of view.

‘The Oathbreaker’s Shadow’ by Amy McCulloch

‘The Oathbreaker’s Shadow’ by Amy McCulloch

Oathbreakers Shadow



Warrior. Traitor. Saviour.

There are many elements to McCulloch’s hero, Raim. This is a theme which also runs through the plotline of the novel, available in the Lower School Library, and is the key to its success. Set in a nomadic desert world, where promises are sacred and bound together with magic, the book is split into three sections. Each new section builds on what the reader already knows and develops the plotline further. It feels, therefore, that the audience is learning alongside Raim and this entices you further into the book to the point that it feels you are taking the journey with him.


NEW FICTION – ‘What was Promised’ by Tobias Hill

NEW FICTION – ‘What was Promised’ by Tobias Hill

what was promisedThis beautifully written and engaging novel spans the latter half of the twentieth century, capturing the lives and fortunes of three distinct families in the East End of London. Starting in 1948, in a city ravaged by the Blitz, children play on bomb sites whilst their parents strive to make a living in the markets.

All are new to the city; Sally and Dora are Jewish refugees from Danzig, whilst Clarence and Bernadette have travelled thousands of miles from the Caribbean to the ‘mother country’. The third family, the Lockharts, have come from Birmingham to escape a family feud. Michael Lockhart cuts a sinister figure, disabled by a stroke that has left him with a disfigured face, and there are hints of his violent character.

Unlike the other men making their living as costers in the markets, Michael moves into more illegal activities. It is this which brings about a shock conclusion to the first section of the novel.

The second and third sections, set at twenty year intervals (1968 and 1988), are more character orientated, deftly taking the reader backwards and forwards in time and out of the city. Hill skillfully uses collisions between the characters, both accidental and deliberate, to reveal more about them via their relationships between each other.

Love, belonging, identity and the concept of ‘home’ are the main themes in this engrossing novel of a city and its people during a time of great change.

Costa Book Award winners announced.

Costa Book Award winners announced.

Costa Book Awards

The winners of this year’s Costa Book Awards have been announced.


Costa Novel Award Winner: Ali Smith, How to be Both

Costa First Novel Award Winner: Emma Healey, Elizabeth is Missing

Costa Biography Award Winner: Helen MacDonald, H is for Hawk

Costa Poetry Award Winner: Jonathan Edwards, My Family and Other Superheroes

Costa Children’s Book Award Winner: Kate Saunders, Five Children on the Western Front


Elizabeth is Missing


was described by the judges as showing “incredible flair and unusual skill”. (First Novel)



Five Children on the Western Front


was described by the judges as “a modern masterpiece that captures the spirit of a much-loved classic”. (Children’s Book)


Both are available to borrow from the libraries now.


The overall winner will be announced on 27th January 2015.


To find out more about this year’s winners, along with a list of past winners of the Costa Book Awards, go to their website.

Come and decorate our tree

Come and decorate our tree

What book would make the perfect Christmas present?

Christmas present booksWould it be the latest bestseller from a favourite author or a well-loved classic? Do you have a favourite seasonal tale, or perhaps a much-loved book from your childhood which would be ideal for a younger member of the family?

Or maybe you would like to suggest one for a teacher or celebrity?