Chris Hill, Lucky

Chicken House, 2014, ISBN 978-1908435149

Lucky is a young red squirrel who finds himself in woods he’s never seen before, surrounded by big, fast, scary greys who are far from impressed by the scrawny, wrong-coloured outsider. These are the Cloudfoots, and Lucky realises he is going to have to adapt fast to their ways or he won’t survive. But it’s not only his survival that is at stake. The Cloudfoots, a well organised matriarchal society, are at war with the fearsome Northenders. Despite the prejudice against him, Lucky becomes a member of the Cloudfoot army. The battles between the warring sides are intense and bloody. Betrayal and intrigue are rife. There is danger everywhere. Lucky needs all the courage and brainpower he can muster.

This is a highly imaginative, exciting and fast-moving adventure, with a great protagonist and a cast of excellent heroes and villains. It tackles important themes with a light touch: the environment, prejudice, loyalty and treason, friendship, the folly of war. Chris Hill is an accomplished writer. My only cavil is the rather cutesy cover, which is at odds with the contents. I fear that it will give lovers of books like the Animal Ark series quite the wrong impression, and may deter adventure readers, depriving them of a book they would very much enjoy.