The Shadow Keeper by Abi Elphinstone

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The Shadow Keeper by Abi Elphinstone

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Anne Thompson
Reviewed by Anne Thompson
Summary: The eagerly anticipated sequel to The Dreamsnatcher more than lives up to expectations. This is a thrilling and compelling adventure full of evil, magic and bravery but at its heart it is a story of friendship. A wonderful read that leaves you wanting more.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: February 2016
Publisher: Simon and Shuster Children's UK
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1471122705

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Moll and the rest of her tribe have been forced to move from the ancient forest and they are now hidden in a secret cave by the sea. They must find the secret amulet of truth to overcome the evil Shadowmasks and to achieve this they must slip past fierce smugglers, defeat horrific creatures and solve challenging clues. The threats mount and their courage is tested to the full as Moll and her loyal wildcat Gryff, together with her friends Alfie and Sid battle to find the amulet before it is too late.

The Dreamsnatcher was a much talked about and highly regarded debut last year so this sequel has been enthusiastically awaited by many. It most definitely does not disappoint! From the opening pages the reader is once again drawn into Moll's world and the evil she must defeat feels ever more menacing. Everything about this second story feels bigger and braver than the first. The action has now moved from the forest to the coastline and the wide sea beyond. This setting gives the book a different feel, the scale of the adventure has grown and it makes the reader more aware of the vulnerability of the children at the heart of the story. A visit to Abi Elphinstone's website will tell you more about the research she carried out before writing this book and this has resulted in Moll's world feeling very real. The writing brings this world vividly to life for the reader and the fast pace of the story line adds to the tension and suspense.

The characters have developed too. In The Dreamsnatcher Moll had been impulsive, brave and likeable but perhaps a little brittle. In this sequel she has matured and grown a bit more trusting and thoughtful. I enjoyed the change in Sid's attitude too; from an amusing small boy he has become braver, more assured and confident. Alfie was the one who had intrigued me and in this sequel I was to learn more about him too. This is a story with heart and the friendship between the young friends is something which children reading the book will recognise and empathise with. As the story progresses the challenges the children face increase and they find themselves and their friendship tested to the limits. New characters are introduced too and these add to the feeling of an expanding world and a larger adventure. The many obstacles the children must overcome include kelpies, marsh spirits and giant eels, each of them steadily more and more frightening. I described the first book as fantasy but perhaps it is wrong to give it a label. This is a story with a wide appeal and should particularly satisfy fans of Harry Potter.

The book is aimed at a readership aged about 9 to 12 years, a section of book publishing sometimes referred to as middle grade. This particular area of children's fiction does not always receive as much media attention as teen or YA fiction but it is very important as it is at this age that children often experience a book that affects them emotionally, makes them care, for the very first time. This is most definitely a story that makes the reader care. Amongst the excitement there was sadness too but the book ends with a feeling of hope and a wish to find out what the future holds for Moll and her friends. A fabulous and breath-taking story and highly recommended.

The wonderful cover illustration by Thomas Flintham is worth a mention as it beautifully captures the spirit of the book.

Although I think it may be possible to enjoy this story for its own sake, for maximum enjoyment you really should read The Dreamsnatcher first. In addition to Harry Potter already mentioned, readers who enjoyed this story may also like to try The Last Wild by Piers Torday. We also have a review of The Night Spinner by Abi Elphinstone.

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Buy The Shadow Keeper by Abi Elphinstone at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Shadow Keeper by Abi Elphinstone at


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