A magical land. A prison in the sky. An underwater city. Little does Ben envisage this is what awaits him as he escapes the clutches of two bullies and climbs into the dark and gloomy cave. That’s when he discovers it, deep inside…Labyrinth Junction, a gateway to other worlds! Once he gets past the old witch standing guard, he’s led down a dark tunnel by a peculiar talking dog into the strange and magical land of Numblebrook and his adventures truly begin! With his life in peril and trapped in Numblebrook, Ben befriends a pretty orphan girl called Amy and her pet dragon. Together, they and the strange Moonbeamer people set off on a series of dangerous missions in an effort to solve a riddle, free the land of the evil King and get Ben back home. Labyrinth Junction is an exciting and fast moving fantasy story full of perilous adventures and heart warming friendships. It is a story about the sheer bravery and determination of a young boy who is prepared to risk his life if it means finding his way home. It will appeal to 8 – 12 year olds with a taste for adventure and excitement.
Some of my favourite books
I thought I would share with you nine of my favourite books. I’ve put these in three categories – three from my childhood, three children’s books I’ve read later in life and three books for adults. Picking just nine was difficult, but here goes:
Favourite books as a child.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S.Lewis
As a child I loved all seven books in The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S.Lewis, but my favourite was The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. The story of four siblings who discover another world through the back of their uncle’s wardrobe. The White Queen has cast a spell and the world is always winter but never Christmas. The children join the magical lion, Aslan and fight against the White Queen. As a child I could totally absorb myself in this book and completely transport myself away to the magical fantasy world of Narnia. Although I didn’t realise it at the time of writing, this book probably had many influences on my novel ‘Labyrinth Junction’. Both books feature a gateway into another world and the fight against an evil ruler.
The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton.
I grew up on Enid Blyton stories. I had them all …… all the Famous Five books, The Wishing Chair series, the Malory Towers books, Island of Adventure series, the Secret Seven. The list is never ending! However, my favourite when I was a young child was the Enchanted Wood series, the stories of three children who discover the Faraway Tree, a tree full of magical creatures: Moon-Face, Silky the Fairy, The Saucepan Man, Dame Washalot and the Angry Pixie. At the top of the tree is a ladder which leads to magical lands. They mustn’t stay in one land too long as the lands rotate and they won’t be able to escape back down the tree. My favourite as a child was the land of sweets! Oh, what I would have done to find the Faraway Tree myself and visit the land of sweets! To me, as a child, The Enchanted Wood was mesmorising.
The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner
I loved this book as it was set in Alderley Edge near where I grew up, so I felt that I had a personal connection with it. It’s about two children who are sent away to stay with friends whilst their parents are away. Susan, one of the children has a jewelled bracelet which contains the Weirdstone. The children are hunted by dark spirits, a sorceress and an evil wizard who all try to take the Weirdstone for themselves. The children are helped by the wizard Cadellin Silverbrow and his dwarf companions. The wizard takes them to the caves by the wood. It’s these caves and woods which my friend Jo and I used to explore, bounding through the woods, pretending we were the children in the book. It’s a story full of fantasy, magic, and weird and wonderful adventures.
Favourite children’s books I’ve read as an adult.
Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
I only read this book last month in my local Waterstones Book Club where we meet once a month. I absolutely loved it! It’s pretty long for a children’s middle grade fantasy novel, but an amazing read. It’s the story of a young girl called Morrigan Crow who is cursed and doomed to die at midnight on Eventide. But as Eventide awaits her, she is saved by a stranger called Jupiter North who whisks her away through the tower clock in the town centre to the magical land of Nevermoor. In order to stay in the safety of the land, she must compete in four trials to contend for a place in the prestigious Wonderous Society. All the children competing have special talents – except for Morrigan that is. She must find a way to shine above all her competitors to stay. This book isn’t like any other children’s fantasy novel I’ve read. It’s very unique and the storyline and characters are so imaginative. For anyone looking for a great children’s fantasy story to read, I’d definitely recommend this. The sequel ‘Wundersmith’ has just been released in paperback and I’ll be popping into my local book shop to buy it!
Each Peach Pear Plum by Allan Ahlberg & Janet Ahlberg
This is one for younger readers and as a teacher I regularly used to read it to my class. I loved it as much as they did. No matter how any times it came out they never bored of it. It was a worthy winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal. It’s a rhyming book, written like a long poem and introduces young children to characters from traditional stories and nursery rhymes. On each page you have to search through the amazing illustrations looking for a certain character. Love it. If you’ve got young children, this is definitely one for the birthday list.
The Mirror of Pharos by J S Landor
As an indie author, I thought I’d include my favourite children’s ‘indie’ book. I bought this for my daughter for Christmas, but it looked so good I thought I’d have a read myself! I have to be honest, the reason I picked this one was purely because of the fantastic illustration of the wolf on the front cover! My daughter is a big wolf fan and reads anything with wolves in it. It didn’t disappoint. It’s a great little read about a young boy who is bullied at school. His life changes when a strange seagull delivers him a mysterious disc. As he attempts to discover the discs purpose, he is thrust into a magical adventure of secrets and mystery, whilst Alpha the wolf sits and watches. It’s a super read and one I would definitely recommend if someone fancies picking up a book by an indie author. My daughter loved it too.
Educated by Tara Westover
I don’t often read non-fiction, but this has to be my favourite book I’ve read over the last twelve months. It’s a memoir written by Tara Westover about her life from being a young child. It’s written very much like a story, so I kind of felt like I was reading fiction in a way and had to keep reminding myself that this was actually true! Tara is the youngest child of Mormon fundamentalist parents. He father believes the world is about to end and the family are taught how to stockpile home canned peaches and store petrol so that they will be the only family prepared for the end coming. They follow a survivalist lifestyle and her parents don’t believe in education, hospitals or the government. Tara never visited a doctor and didn’t have a birth certificate until she was nine. The family were treated for serious injuries at home. Her and her siblings were home educated, although very little education actually took place, as her paranoid father had banned most educational books from the house. Tara fights to be educated, but this is constantly denied. She was seventeen when she first set foot in a classroom, yet despite the traumas of her home life she still managed to excel and gain a place at Cambridge. This book is an absolute must read. It’s both shocking and inspiring and one book which I think will forever stay embedded in my mind.
No Time for Goodbye by Linwood Barclay
I love a good thriller and one of my favourite writers in this genre is Linwood Barclay. It’s a hard pick, but out of all his books I think this is my number one choice. It’s about a fourteen year old girl who wakes up one morning and all her family have mysteriously vanished. After many years living with the mystery the past starts to catch up. It’s fast moving and full of twists, turns and suspense. It’s one of those novels I just couldn’t put down until I got to the end. If you like James Patterson/John Grisham type books, this one if definitely for you.
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton.
This is a great murder mystery, but with elements of the supernatural. It’s kind of like ‘Agatha Christie’’ meets ‘Ground Hog Day’! Several people are invited to a party at an old mansion in the middle of nowhere when strange things start to happen. Each time the main character wakes up he has swopped bodies and relives each day as a different ‘host’. He only has eight chances to relive the day to try and solve the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle and stop it from happening a final time. If he doesn’t solve the murder by the eighth day, he’ll be returned to the first host and his memory wiped. Then the whole ‘game’ starts again. In this book nothing is at it seems. There’s a twist or a turn on every page. It’s one of those books you have to really concentrate on, as so much is happening you can quickly lose track of who’s who and what’s going on. But if you stay focused it’s an amazing book. Very cleverly written. One that I couldn’t put down and one which would make a great film!
Thank you, Hayley Davenport-Smith and Random Things Tours.
About the author
Hayley is originally from Stockport, Cheshire, but relocated to the coast of North Wales in 2010 and now enjoys living a few minutes walk from the Irish Sea. She graduated from Sheffield Hallam University with an honours degree in Accountancy, and later studied for a Post Graduate Certificate in Education in Manchester. Whilst teaching in Wales, she completed a ‘Post Graduate Certificate in Bilingualism in Education’.
Hayley is a qualified primary school teacher and mother of five children. She has spent many years watching youngsters become absorbed in fiction books. Inspired, she decided to write her own debut children’s fantasy novel.
This was a personal book for Hayley, not only because her twelve year old daughter illustrated it and designed the cover, but because of the young minds she hopes to capture: I wrote this book after being inspired by my own children and the children I have taught as a primary school teacher over the last fifteen years, explains Hayley. Being a teacher is rewarding, but often emotionally challenging and you meet children from all walks of life. Every child has their own individual strengths and weaknesses, but I find that all children have one thing in common … a love of fiction books. I wanted to create a story that would mesmerise children and carry them away into another exciting, fantasy world.
Labyrinth Junction is the first book in a planned series.
Hayley’s interests include spending time with her children, wildlife, walking her two collie dogs, learning Welsh and, of course, reading!