Allie

 The narrative has it all; fighting, magic, mystery, epic battles, supernatural powers and a good dose of what film listings bill as `mild to moderate peril’. But it is also beautifully grounded in the kind of everyday detail that makes fantasy-work believable; the characters eat and drink and sleep and wash, they have moods, they make mistakes, they change. And here I come to the book’s most admirable achievement, its hero Conor Kelly. Conor has a condition which is thankfully never labelled but which inhibits his mobility and ability to speak. These elements are part of Conor but they do not define him; what defines him is his courage, his sense of humour, his realism, his grit and his humility. Conor’s difficulties are never minimised – life is a struggle, and sometimes he feels bloody angry about it – but there is never a pitying note in this book and neither is there a patronising one.