Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Series: Children

Fantasy Literature for Children ages 9-12.



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Utterly Dark and the Heart of the Wild: A fantastic middle book in a captivating trilogy

Utterly Dark and the Heart of the Wild by Philip Reeve

In his review for Skye McKenna’s Hedgewitch, Reeve said: “there are only two sorts of fantasy story: the ones that feel fake and the ones that feel real. It’s hard to explain the difference but you know the real ones when you read them.”

I know exactly what he’s talking about, because he writes the real ones too. His depiction of Faerie – that ancient place where all the fairy tales come from – captures its mystery and danger and uncanny beauty as it also exists in books like Neil Gaiman’s Stardust and Lord Dunsany’s The King of Elfland’s Daughter and Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell,


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Empty Smiles: The fourth and final game begins

Empty Smiles by Katherine Arden

What is it that makes funfairs and carnivals so scary? Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari both take place in carnivals, as do a few significant chapters of Stephen King’s It and several third season episodes of Stranger Things. I even recall that the third book of L.J. Smith’s The Forbidden Game ended in an abandoned funfair.


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Dark Waters: “Until next time” is now

Dark Waters by Katherine Arden

The third (but clearly not final, given its cliffhanger ending) book in the SMALL SPACES QUARTET sees our three eleven-year-old protagonists once more go up against “the Smiling Man,” an immortal fey creature who loves to make deals and play games with unsuspecting mortals. As I anticipated after Small Spaces and Dead Voices, it’s Brian’s turn to be front-and-center while Ollie and Coco take on supporting roles.

Having received a cryptic note that promises yet another round of the terrifying feud they’ve been dragged into,


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Hedgewitch: The first instalment in a magical new series

Hedgewitch by Skye McKenna

Have you ever read a book in which the plot and characterization are best described as “fun but not special” only to completely fall in love with the world in which they’re set? In this case, there’s nothing wrong with the story of Hedgewitch (even if it hews a little too closely to the HARRY POTTER formula for its first few chapters: a magically-gifted child escapes a terrible environment with the help of a flying broomstick and a talking cat) but the construction and ambiance of the setting is just intoxicating.


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Utterly Dark and the Face of the Deep: A great start to a brand-new trilogy

Utterly Dark and the Face of the Deep by Philip Reeve

Philip Reeve has been one of my favourite authors for a while now, even though most of his stories are slightly outside my preferred genres. I loved Railhead, which was science-fiction, and Mortal Engines, which was dystopian – so imagine the weird squeaky noise of excitement I made on discovering that his latest book was not only in my genre wheelhouse (fantasy, of course) but which bore the captivating title of Utterly Dark and the Face of the Deep (2021).


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Fenris and Mott: A middle-grade book about Ragnarok and keeping your word

Fenris and Mott by Greg Van Eekhout

Fenris and Mott is Greg Van Eekhout’s charming middle grade fantasy-adventure, published in 2022. Mott—short for Martha—is a Pennsylvanian recently uprooted and transplanted to southern California, and Fenris is… well, Fenris is the wolf from Norse mythology, destined to eat the moon and usher in endless winter, endless darkness, and the age of the sword.

Mott is no stranger to broken promises, and when the book opens, she has come off a long string of them. Her absentee father is famous for making promises he doesn’t keep.


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Knock Three Times: Wizards and Warriors join forces

Knock Three Times by Cressida Cowell

The third book in Cressida Cowell‘s THE WIZARDS OF ONCE sees our young protagonists on an adventure to collect the rare ingredients needed to banish the terrible Witches that have recently awoken all across Ancient Britain.

As difficult as it may be to find the scales of a Nuckalavee, it’s even stranger to consider the team they’ve assembled to retrieve them. Xar is the youngest son of the Head Wizard Encanzo, while Wish is the daughter of the cold Queen Sychorax,


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What Lives in the Woods: A mysterious MG haunted house story

What Lives in the Woods by Lindsay Currie

Ginny — or Gin — Anderson is looking forward to the summer writing workshop she’s going to attend with her best friend Erica, in their hometown of Chicago, until Dad upends the family’s plans because of a job. He’d going to restore a century-old house-turned-hotel, The Woodmoor Manor, in Michigan. The family will live there while he works.

This sounds terrible to Gin and her older brother Leo. While Leo is soon appeased by the news that Saugatuck, the nearby small town,


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Ghostlight: An entertaining and engaging MG ghost story

Ghostlight by Kenneth Oppel

Kenneth Oppel’s Ghostlight is a quick-moving MG story involving a trio of teens battling a long-dead villain seeking to raise an army of ghosts in modern-day Toronto. Full of action, the narrative also includes a number of brief but effective emotional moments and also highlights the poor treatment of Native groups.

Gabe Vasilakis has a summer job giving the Ghost Tour of the Toronto’s Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, which in 1839 saw the unexplained deaths of its keeper and his 16-year-old daughter, Rebecca Strand.


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Scary Stories for Young Foxes: The City: Manmade threats for the foxes

Scary Stories for Young Foxes: The City by Christian McKay Heidicker

Three young fox kits, romping through their first heavy snow, come upon a gravely injured older fox in the woods. The wounded fox asks for their help, and the kits are understandably reluctant. Then the stranger fox says that he needs to tell them a story first. A scary story, but not of predators and dangers of the forest. The City and a nearby farm have equally horrifying dangers for foxes.

The Stranger’s story begins at a fox farm,


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

We have reviewed 8312 fantasy, science fiction, and horror books, audiobooks, magazines, comics, and films.

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