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Published: 7 Nov 2019

Paperback / softback, 384 pages

Recommended for age 11+

By Katharine Orton

Published by Walker Books Ltd

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A gorgeous, snowy genre_fiction:adventure stories, set in the wilds of Siberia, full of magic and wonder, for junior readers. A world of magic is only a whisper away... Born in a Soviet prison camp, Lina has never seen the world outside until the night she escapes with her best friend, Bogdan.

Reviewed by Rachel Elvidge

Nevertell is a fast-paced, action-packed novel which whirls along like one of the snowstorms that regularly descend on the Siberian landscape.

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.

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?

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

Rachel has 20 years experience in primary school teaching, most recently running reading interventions in an Ofsted Outstanding school in Essex. A firm believer that there is always something new to learn, she recently completed an MA in Early Childhood Education. In the same spirit, she also attends latin and ballroom lessons, sadly with a less than impressive outcome! Rachel works for Just Imagine as an Education Consultant, currently overseeing The Reading Journey.