The Haven: Book 1 by Simon Lelic

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The Haven: Book 1 by Simon Lelic

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Pacy middle grade adventure riffing on Oliver Twist. A light read but an exciting one. For fans of Alex Rider and any young reader who likes a good, old fashioned goodies vs baddies thriller.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: February 2019
Publisher: Hodder
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1444947601

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When Ollie and Nancy, the police officer tasked with guarding our young hero, are abducted in the middle of the night, things take a dangerous turn. Rescued by Dodge, Ollie is taken to the Haven, a secret underground community based in a network of underground tunnels that the London above ground knows nothing about. Here, children work together to battle great evils. And there is an immediate enemy to fight. Ollie would have been the hundredth victim of Maddy Sikes had he not been rescued. And Maddy intends to destroy the city.

Can Maddy be defeated? Can Ollie and his new friends win this fight without losses? Read on for a rollercoaster of an adventure.

(And yes - you noticed the character names, right? We're riffing on Oliver Twist as we go.)

I enjoyed The Haven. Simon Lelic is an accomplished writer of thrillers for adults and he has brought all that wonderful urgency to this, his first book for younger readers. It's perfect for the middle grade reader looking for a high octane adventure. The set up is fabulous - an underground world full of a city's lost and forgotten children, all looking out for one another and all doing battle against evil, unseen by the adult world. Lelic creates a wonderfully industrial atmosphere that rises from the pages and surrounds you as you read. I loved the Haven communities - the children in them are not only street smart but inventive and creative, too

It's not perfect. I'm not really sure the Oliver Twist theme fully worked - it's a mile wide and an inch deep and, beyond homage in the character names, it seems like more of a selling point than a real analysis of children looking out for each other even in the worst of circumstances. This aspect of the book needed more work and subtlety, I think. And it would have been nice to have seen a bit more depth to some of the characters. Maddie Sikes, in particular, is rather a cookie cutter baddie. That said, kids looking for pure adventure will find lots of it here and the narrative is pacy enough to punch through my nitpicks.

The Haven is a promising start to this new adventure thriller series. Recommended for fans of Robert Muchamore and Anthony Horowitz.

If The Haven appeals, you might also enjoy the Alex Rider series. And for older readers who enjoy a riff on the classics, Melvyn Burgess uses an Oliver Twist theme to investigate institutional child abuse in Nicholas Dane.

Buy The Haven: Book 1 by Simon Lelic at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Haven: Book 1 by Simon Lelic at

Buy The Haven: Book 1 by Simon Lelic at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Haven: Book 1 by Simon Lelic at


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