It has been a while since I read any children’s fiction. Looking back at my magic spreadsheet it looks like it was towards the end of last year that I last reviewed anything younger than a teen/YA novel – don’t judge me: I like spreadsheets and I need to keep track of a lot of books and reviews. Its not that there aren’t lots of interesting children’s books out there but I don’t seem to find the time to squeeze them in. Which is odd as they can, in the case of picture books and fiction for primary age children, be read in a lunch break. I think it is just working out what to say about them is a lot harder – after all, it is a few years since I was at school. And when I was there I mostly read Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl and C.S. Lewis (which I think may have been covered already by one or two people over the years). I’ve read the popular current authors like J. K. Rowling and Julia Donaldson but again these are pretty well represented…
So, I dipped my hand into the lucky dip of children’s fiction and came up with a few things to review – starting with Genesis, the first volume in a series called River of Ink and suitable (in my view) for children 10 and older. I did struggle a little at the beginning of the book as one of the characters irritated me but it turned out he was a fairly minor player so I was able to get over that. (Hearing Supper’s Ready in my head every time I saw the title is an ongoing issue and one that’s not likely to go away anytime soon…). By the end I was almost hooked enough to find the previously annoying character endearing.
The story is a little like Will Hill’s Department 19 series, or maybe a junior version of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, since it features mysterious orphans, a shadowy (and probably evil) corporation and peril in various European cities. The main characters are a boy who emerges from the River Thames with no knowledge of who he is and Kassia, who is home-schooled by her rather neurotic mother. The mother is an interesting personality and it will be fascinating to see how she develops in future books in the series – the same goes for Dante, Kassia’s deaf brother. On the side of the ‘baddies’ I’m looking forward to learning more about Victor, a young boy in care who can’t believe his luck when he is suddenly given a home by a man who claims to have been his dead father’s employer.
I don’t think I’m liable to swap all my reading to the children’s sections but it is reassuring to know that there are still good stories being written for youngsters. A blend of mystery, danger and riddles to be solved and a diverse cast means this should appeal to boys and girls from 10 upwards.