Title: The Four

Author: Ellie Keel

Pages: 435 Pages

Publisher: HQ

The Blurb

ONE SECRET COULD DESTROY THEM ALL

Powerful. Sinister. Heart-wrenching. Unmissable.

We were always The Four. From our very first day at High Realms.

The four scholarship pupils. Outsiders in a world of power and privilege.

It would have made our lives a lot easier if Marta had simply pushed Genevieve out of our bedroom window that day. Certainly, it would have been tragic. She would have died instantly.

But Marta didn’t push her then, or – if you choose to believe me – at any other time. If she had, all of what we went through would not have happened.

I’ve told this story as clearly as I could – as rationally as I’ve been able, in the circumstances, to achieve. I don’t regret what we did. And I would do it all again.

The Review

One of my all time favourite settings for a story is in a school. This has always seemed particularly strange to me as in my day job I work in a school so you would think that I would want to escape from that setting. The thing is that when a school setting is explored well – and believe me, Ellie Keel has done this very well – it does become escapism…just not in the relaxing way.

The Four is the story of four young scholarship students who have won the educational lottery. They get to attend one of the most elite schools for free. Here they will make friends and rub shoulders with some of the most important people of the future cultivating relationships that they can use as they grow older. What they soon realise though is that they will always be “other” and will not fit in with the wealthy elite and due to this their lives are made increasingly difficult by their peer and their educators. It is sink or swim for these four teenagers but will the drive to succeed come at a deadly cost.

Ellie Keel has done a masterful job of showing how hierarchy and privilege can be so detrimental and hurtful and this is one of the ways in which I feel that Keel has presented the school setting so well. Whilst my school is not an elite academy you still see these social rules even today.

What’s more is that Keel keeps you on the edge of your seat praying for the underdogs to succeed. She really makes you care for these characters. Equally, she shows the reader that where you start off in life doesn’t always have to be your destination.

I was so eager and excited to read The Four. It was one of the books I was most looking forward to and it did not disappoint.

The Four by Ellie Keel is available now.

For more information regarding Ellie Keel (@elliekeel1) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding HQ (@HQstories) please visit www.hqstories.co.uk.

Title: Threadneedle

Author: Cari Thomas

Pages: 564 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

The Blurb

Within the boroughs of London, nestled among its streets, hides another city filled with magic.

Ever since Anna can remember, her aunt has warned her of the dangers of magic. She has taught her to fear how it twists and knots and turns into something dark and deadly.

It was, after all, magic that killed her parents and left her in her aunt’s care. It’s why she has been protected from the magical world and, in one year’s time, what little magic she has will be bound. She will join her aunt alongside the other Binders who believe magic is a sin not to be used, but denied. Only one more year and she will be free of the curse of magic, her aunt’s teachings and the disappointment of the little she is capable of.

Nothing – and no one – could change her mind before then. Could it?

The Review

Wow. Threadneedle was not what I was expecting.

I knew it was going to be a book that included magic but I had some misconceptions. I was not expecting it to be set in modern times and I did not expect it to be a campus novel. I thought I would like it but I didn’t know I would love it.

It focuses on the story of Anna who is having her magic restricted by her paranoid aunty. However, before she loses her magic forever Anna’s circle of friends try to save her.

At its heart, Threadneedle is the story of finding yourself, embracing that person and not letting anyone control you. I really loved it and now I am off to buy the sequel.

Threadneedle by Cari Thomas is available now.

For more information regarding Cari Thomas (@CariThomas_Auth) please visit www.carithomas.com.

For more information regarding Harper Collins (@HarperCollins) please visit www.harpercollins.com.

Title: As I Descended

Author: Robin Talley

Pages: 370 Pages

Publisher: Harlequin

The Blurb

Amnesty Honour winner Robin Talley is back with a Shakespeare-inspired story of revenge and redemption, where fair is foul, and foul is fair.

Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—but one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey. Golden child Delilah is a legend at exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. But Delilah doesn’t know that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to unseat Delilah for the scholarship. After all, it would lock in Maria’s attendance at Stanford—and assure her and Lily four more years in a shared dorm room.

Together, Maria and Lily harness the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school. But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what’s imagined, the girls must attempt to put a stop to the chilling series of events they’ve accidentally set in motion.

The Review

As far as campus horror novels go, As I Descended is quite good. Students Maria and Lily have dappled in dark forces and have invoked the forces of the dead which begin to have massive consequences of their academic ecosystem.

What was interesting about As I Descended is the depths that people will go for power. However, the overarching belief of goodness makes As I Descended added depth.

As much as I enjoyed the story I didn’t feel that I fully connected with the characters and I felt that more could have been made of the campus setting.

As I Descended by Robin Talley is available now.

For more information regarding Robin Talley (@robin_talley) please visit www.robintalley.com.

For more information regarding Harlequin (@HarlequinBooks) please visit www.harlequin.com.

Title: The Betrayals

Author: Bridget Collins

Pages: 416 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

The Blurb

There’s a silence, like the gap between two ticks of a clock.

Then she turns away, unable to look at his face.

Léo was once a student at Montverre, an exclusive academy tucked away in the mountains, where students learn an arcane and mysterious game. Now he returns in disgrace, exiled to his old place of learning.

Claire is the first woman to serve as Montverre’s Magister Ludi. When Léo first sees Claire he senses a connection with her, though he’s sure they have never met before.

As secrets whisper in the walls and the legendary Midsummer Game, the climax of the year, draws closer, will Léo discover the truth about Claire – and will that truth destroy them both?

The Review

Reading a story in which initially you think the main character in the novel is a rat could have turned this reader right off this book. However, having loved The Binding I persevered with Bridget Collins second novel The Betrayals and it was a good thing I did because much like The Binding I found myself loving this sophomore release.

The reasons I enjoyed it are two fold. Firstly, I love a good mystery and I love the moment the penny drops. The later the better for me, I want to be shocked by events and I totally was by The Betrayals. The twists, the turns, the sense of injustice. I loved it all. Secondly, it was a campus novel. For me, that it usually enough.

Add into the mix a bit of romance, a bit of class division and a dollop of a corrupt government and I am sold. If you like these things too then you should make The Betrayals your next read.

The Betrayals by Bridget Collins is available now.

For more information regarding Bridget Collins (@Br1dgetCollins) please visit www.thebindingbook.com.

For more information regarding Harper Collins (@HarperCollinsUK) please visit the Twitter account.

Title: Cuts Both Ways

Author: Candice Braithwaite

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Hachette Children’s Group

The Blurb

Love is never just black and white…

A sharp and authentic love story about 16-year-old Cynthia, who finds herself caught between two brothers: one who is Black and the other who is white. Tackling the complexities of growing up Black and British, Cuts Both Ways is the first fiction title from the Sunday Times best-selling Candice Brathwaite, author of I Am Not Your Baby Mother.

London is everything to Cynthia, so when her parents move her to a place where there is only one bus an hour and the faint smell of horse manure continuously permeates the air, it’s a culture shock, to say the least. As is transitioning to a private school.

At her new school, Cynthia immediately finds herself caught between two brothers – head boy Thomas, who is white, and his adopted Black brother, Isaac. There is something about Isaac she cannot quite get enough of … but her father wants her to partner up with someone like Thomas, someone who will be ‘better for her future prospects’.

When it turns out the brothers have been keeping secrets from her, secrets that link back to the life Cynthia thought she had left behind in London, she realises that not everything is as it seems.

How can Cynthia follow her heart when it’s being torn in two?

An exploration of race, class, love and the complexities of growing up as a Black British teen, from bestselling author Candice Brathwaite.

The Review

Wow. Where do I even begin with this book. Cuts Both Ways is like an onion. There are layers. On the surface level it is about a boy and a girl who fall in love. On a deeper level it is a Romeo and Juliet tale with a basis in crime. On a deeper level it is about the socio-political and economic values and expectations that the BPOC community face on a daily basis.

It is the story about Cynthia. She is starting a new school and leaving her old life in London behind. The murder of her older brother has had her family moving away from the living memory of the crime but Cynthia struggles when it comes to her new way of life.

In her school she meets a plethora of new people some kind and some not so much. However, it is when she meets brothers Thomas and Isaac that things really start to unravel.

When Cynthia discovers a shocking secret about one of the brothers her whole new life begins to unfold once again. Cynthia is torn between feelings of love and feelings of loyalty.

Cuts Both Ways was a really powerful read and its ending – whilst not ambiguous – certainly allows for more of the story to be told and I really home that Candice Braithwaite turns it into a series.

Cuts Both Ways by Candice Braithwaite is available now.

For more information regarding Candice Braithwaite (@candicebraithwaite) please visit her Instagram account.

For more information regarding Hachette Children’s Group (@HachetteKids) please visit www.hachettechildrens.co.uk.