Charlie Fletcher, Far Rockaway

Hodder Children’s Books, 2011, ISBN 978-0340997321

An exciting new stand-alone novel by the author of the acclaimed Stoneheart trilogy, that brilliantly juxtaposes a mythic world with twenty-first century reality.

Cat Manno and her grandfather Victor have a long-standing agreement to visit Far Rockaway, only she doesn’t want to go. In the course of the journey to the end of the railway line Victor would discover that she has not read the book he gave her for her birthday. Books and stories are central to their close relationship, and she cannot bear to disappoint him. As they head elsewhere a fire-truck smashes into them. Their lives hang by a thread. Cat’s mother and father watch the increasingly frantic efforts of intensive care staff in desperation. As Cat slips into a coma she finds herself in a world peopled by heroes and villains from books that Victor read to her in her childhood: Treasure Island, The Last of the Mohicans and Kidnapped. She becomes embroiled in terrifying adventures, and seems certain to die at the hands of one fictional cut-throat after another as she fights to rescue Victor. Each crisis is her story-book existence is paralleled with a crisis at her hospital bed, where surgeons battle to save her. Finally they do, but by the time Cat is well again she has had to deal with emotional as well as physical pain. She has also discovered that unlike in all the story-books Victor read her, real girls rescue themselves.

Key stage three girls will find Cat a great hero. Boys who can be persuaded to read a book with a girl on the cover will enjoy wonderful swashbuckling action.