by Janet Smyth

Fictionalised accounts of true events is something that novelists excel at and their ability to present us with the human experience allows us to challenge ourselves to think ‘what would I have done had I been there?’. There are some fascinating books set during recent points in world history in this year’s programme that delve beyond what were the news headlines and the hard facts. I’m very much looking forward to learning more about how each writer have woven together their fictions with the facts, their personal stories with the context of a world event. Writers include:

The Memory Stones
By Caroline Brothers

Heartbreaking and beautiful, The Memory Stones is set during the Argentinian Military Coup of 1976. It tells the story of the Disappeared, thousands of Argentinians who fell victim to the violence of the period. Depicting the despair and hope of one family seeking to rebuild itself after unimaginable loss, it is a lyrical, devastating portrait of a country that has come face to face with terror and the long, dark shadow it leaves behind. The novel brings to life a period of recent South American history that many are unaware of and yet continues to this day as many are still seeking to know what happened to family members.

By Jason Wallace

Set in Zimbabwe in 1994 this is based on a true event at a school in Ruwa where an alien space craft allegedly landed. It happened just at morning break and many children experienced a sighting. This novel follows 6 children and what happened to them after their individual experiences. The novel depicts the youngsters being catapulted into the lime light and dealing with the attention from media, investigators and their peers.

Shortlisted for the James Tait Black Award for Fiction, this novel throws a light on the work of Samuel Beckett as it depicts the privation and adventures of his wartime experiences, from his work with the resistance to his long walk south. It is a fascinating account of Vichy France and the impact the German occupation had on everyday life as seen through the prism of Beckett and his friends and family.

This novel is inspired by what happened in Waco, Texas and begins at the point the FBI sweep in to take control. It’s a book about faith, desperation, manipulation and control and is told by survivor Moonbeam as she recounts events to both a psychiatrist and an investigating FBI agent. It explores why people join extreme belief cults and what happens when they have to rejoin the rest of the world.

Sci-fi and fantasy is a dominant genre within the world of children and young adult fiction. This year, there are some really strong, interesting and innovative books that push the boundaries of expectation and imagination.

The Jamie Drake Equation
By Christopher Edge

Every book Christopher Edge writes is a surprise and a delight. His latest is about Jamie whose dad is an astronaut. While doing his homework at the observation lab one night, Jamie's phone picks up a up a weird signal. Could it be a message from aliens? A message that Jamie has to get to his father before it’s too late? But how do you rescue an astronaut without heading into space yourself?

The Devil's Paintbrush
By Jake Arnott

Jake Arnott has been writing books for children for about thirty years but his latest series is a thrilling, dark adventure set in Whitby called The Witching Legacy. The Devil’s Paintrush is book 2 in the series and continues the adventures of Lil and Verne who are battling to quell the Dark forces trying to destroy Whitby -  but they have no idea that the powers they’ve been meddling with are about to turn on them.

Maresi (The Red Abbey Chronicles)
By Maria Turtschaninoff

Maresi tells the story of a world where women are second class citizens denied rights or education except in an ancient abbey founded and run entirely by women, on an island where no men are allowed. It is narrated by the main character, Maresi, a novice at the abbey, who was sent there to escape the terrible poverty her family faced. Having been at the abbey for four years, Maresi is a popular novice, who enjoys nothing more than going to the treasure room every evening to read until sundown. However, the arrival of Jai, a silent and guarded girl from a foreign land, brings an end to the peace that formerly reigned at the abbey. Brilliant told this is translated from the original Finnish and is the first in the Red Abbey Chronicles.

All the way from Canada comes Sebastien de Castell with the first part in his new Spellslinger series. When Kellen is challenged to a duel, he knows that without magic he is risking everything: his family, his home, even his own life. This dark fantasy series is packed with magic and adventure and the ultimate battle of good versus evil.