Saturday, September 18, 2010

Children’s Books: Burnt Snow (Book of the Witch) by Van Badham

Sophie Morgan and her family have just moved from Sydney to the New South Wales coastal town of Yarrindi. Yarrindi has a lot of secrets among its teen population -- but so do the Morgans. When Sophie begins to be attracted to local “bad boy” Brody Meine, a lot of people warn her to stay away, including her own mother, and not entirely because he’s a bad boy.

What is Goth girl Ashley Ventwood’s secret -- and how does she seem to know Sophie’s mother? What about the giant crow hovering everywhere Sophie goes? And the horrific events that happen every time she gets close to Brody?

With all the teen paranormal novels out now, Burnt Snow (Book of the Witch) (Pan Macmillan Australia) should do well. I can’t make too many comments on it without spoilers, but the kids will love it, especially girls who have been reading all those novels featuring vampires, werewolves, faeries, daemons, angels and so on. While reading it, I couldn’t help thinking of what a friend said of Buffy The Vampire Slayer while it was on: “All those demons and vampires and the world coming to an end and it’s, ‘You stole my boyfriend!’” That happens a lot in this one. Teenagers will be teenagers, even in the middle of over-the-top events and Sophie, no matter what happens to her, is very worried about who hates her and whether she will look good for Brody at the party. Very believable!

Recommended for girls 14 and upwards. ◊

Sue Bursztynski lives in Australia, where she works as a teacher-librarian. She has written several books for children and young adults, including Crime Time: Australians Behaving Badly and, most recently, the YA novel Wolfborn. Her blog The Great Raven can be found at

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