What a debut! Lucy Hope's 'Fledgling' is a phenomenal accomplishment: atmospheric, otherworldly and beautiful. Like a Gothic fairy-tale or a rapturous fever-dream, it takes flight and soars with twists and turns that will mesmerise, horrify and delight. Suitable for upper Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 readers. Out 4th November.
Cassie Engel lives a large, old house atop a rock, surrounded by Bavarian forest. Her mother is reclusive, singing opera into the night. Her father is a taxidermist, tending to rooms full of stuff owls and other creatures. One night a cherub blows through Cassie's window, heralding the beginning of a series of strange and sinister events. Dark birds are gathering. Her best friend isn't all has he seems. And the more Cassie investigates, the more she learns about her family's secret history.
When I received my proof copy of this marvellous book I had no idea what to expect. Once I started reading I was totally absorbed and surprised. Lucy Hope creates a rare dream-like atmosphere - feet on the earth and imaginative wings straining to the celestial. It's beautifully eerie. Comparisons have been made to Frances Hardinge, but I'd also add HS Norup and Lucy Strange (I can't help imagining a Hope and Strange collaboration). 'Fledgling' is a totally gripping read with mysteries that unfurl and then dazzle. Without giving too much away, there are angels, horrific dark birds, strange ancient Guardians, a cherub, mechanical contraptions and creepy stuffed owls. Everything connects, in surreal fashion, with an ending that is horrifically tense, unexpected and tinged with sadness. This is quite unlike anything you will read - it's Skellig re-imagined by Mary Shelley or the Brothers Grimm.
Lucy Hope is a brilliant new children's author - a fledgling who is already reaching for the stars. Stunning.