Nevertell

Authored by Katharine Orton
Published by Walker

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Lina is desperate to get to Moscow and find the grandmother she has never seen. Her mother helps her to break out of their prison camp home with a group of untrustworthy thugs. Unfortunately for Lina, that’s not even the most dangerous part of the adventure! If life in a Soviet prison camp seemed impossible, Lina now has to contend with the merciless Siberian climate, a pack of Shadow Wolves and a powerful sorceress! Luckily her friend Bogdan has followed her, and so she is not alone.

This is a fast-paced, action-packed novel which whirls along like one of the snowstorms that regularly descend on the Siberian landscape. Lina tackles one perilous situation after another while finding a little magic of her own as the story progresses. The juxtaposition of reality with the magical is striking.

Better suited to readers 11+, this book has some genuinely dark moments. The Shadow Wolves remove the will of their victims, leaving them to wander aimlessly through the snow, blind and slowly fading to shadows themselves. The unnamed figure of Stalin looms throughout the plot, as citizens live in fear of being betrayed to the secret police. And throughout the novel, Lina wonders who her father might be. Surely he isn’t the cruel and authoritarian Camp Commandant Zima? What will that mean for her, if it is true?

A gripping book about magic, friendship, love loyalty and family, I recommend this to fans of Abi Elphinstone and Sophie Anderson.

You can listen to our In the Reading Corner podcast with Katharine here.