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Kim’s top reads book review

With Gibraltar in lockdown, many are spending more time at home and looking for distractions. Kim Pecino is a librarian with experience in public and school libraries, and today she shares three book recommendations.

The Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire –

This wonderfully addictive fantasy series is comprised of 5 books, following the Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children, for children who have found a ‘door’ and visited alternative worlds, only to find themselves back in their old lives, with no sense of belonging or purpose anymore. The series begins with Every Heart A Doorway, where protagonist Nancy is taken to Eleanor West’s school after returning from the underworld.

She comes back changed, seeking a way back to the place she felt wanted, and resentful at having been returned. However, Nancy’s arrival at the School marks a huge change, where darkness and tragedy looms in every corner, and it is up to Nancy and her new-found friends, lost children just like her, to put things right. The story is a breath of fresh air for the fantasy genre, and also provides a great mystery at the same time.

The rest of the series provides the reader with back stories for the other well-loved characters, taking us to weird and wonderful worlds of vampires, cotton candy, goblins, mermaids, and a plethora of other bizarre and magical lands. The books are very short, just over 200 pages each, so it is easy to plough through them at quite a fast pace. The language used can be strong at times, as well as certain subject matters, so I would recommend this series to an older reading age, rather than primary school level.

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia –

Eliza Marks leads a double life. In her day-to-day, she is quiet, shy and awkward, with no real friends to speak of. Online, she is LadyConstellation, anonymous author and illustrator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza is more than happy to continue this existence, out of the shadows whilst creating something she loves, until Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s most popular fan fiction writer, transfers to her high school.

The two bond over their love of the webcomic, with Wallace thinking Eliza is a superfan like him, until her secret is accidentally shared with the world, and the secrecy Eliza had built her life upon falls apart. This book will truly resonate with those who suffer from social anxiety, who themselves had found solace in the anonymity of an online presence. It is also a story of friendship, of finding yourself, self-love and self-worth, and defying all expectations to pursue something you love and feel passionate about.

It is a incredibly sweet novel, heartwarming and heartbreaking in equal measure, which I would recommend to young people and adults alike.