Children's books reviewed by Felix Taylor (age 13)

I'm just nipping out to feed the beast in the reservoir
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The Independent Culture

Darren Shan is excellent as usual with his latest, Slawter (Harper Collins £12.99). A famous film director tries to make a film about demons. No one knows about it. It's secret. The town in the film is called Slawter and they're filming it on a special location in the middle of nowhere. Dervish, Grubbs and Bill-E are summoned to help with the visual effects of the film. There's only one tiny problem. The demons in the film are real! Other children working on the film start dying mysteriously and no one knows who is on whose side. When they discover the truth, Dervish, Grubbs and Bill-E do everything in their power to stop them. This is the third book of the Demonata - a series of books about demons written by Darren Shan. I think that this is an amazing book, but not quite as good as the first in the Demonata, Lord Loss. It is full of twists and turns that you wouldn't expect and just right for people who love horror.

In Beast by Ally Kennen (Marion Lloyd Books £6.99), a 17-year-old boy has a criminal record and has been moved to countless foster homes since the age of eight. He's not in contact with his mum, his brother is dead and his dad is homeless. He has a big secret. He keeps a creature hidden in a reservoir and feeds it a pig every month. It's getting bigger and he's running out of money. He is looking for jobs and he gets one in a meat factory and steals chickens to give to his beast. The foster family become suspicious and decide to move him to a home for criminal teenagers. What should he do with the beast? Move it? Kill it? It's only a matter of time before someone finds out. This book isn't for younger children. It's quite scary at times and is full of swearing. I think it's a great book, well written and full of action. It has a lot of tension and humour.

The front cover of Kate Thompson's The Fourth Horseman (Bodley Head £10.99) looks as if it's set in the past, but it's not. It's about a girl, her brother and his friend who are very good friends and spend their entire time together, mainly playing cricket. Their dad is a scientist and is about to make a scientific breakthrough. He is trying to kill off all of the grey squirrels so that the red ones can live. But one night, something strange happens. The girl and her dad see a horseman in the woods. They think they have seen a ghost. The rest of the family are anxious because he is acting strangely. Pieces start to fit together and the three friends solve the mystery. The book starts when the girl blows up her father's research. Then it goes back into the past to explain why she did it and what the horseman had come for. I think Kate Thompson helps young people see that some squirrels are dying out and need help.

Michael Coleman's The Howling Tower (Orchard Books £4.99) is part one in a trilogy about a world ruled by bears. Humans (the bears call them "saps") are kept as pets, guard dogs and manual workers. Bears can talk, but can't understand humans as they speak in such high voices compared to them. A human named Benjamin Wildfire has heard of a mysterious place called Hyde Park, where saps have no owners and can do whatever they like. Benjamin and his friend Mops try to escape from their owners to find Hyde Park, but they get caught by the Sap Catcher, and are taken to The Howling Tower where they are kept as prisoners. Failing to be sold at the slave market, who knows what will happen next? How will they escape and get to Hyde Park? This book got quite boring, but I'm sure younger children will enjoy it more.

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