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The Werewolves Who Weren’t by T.C. Shelley

Title: The Werewolves Who Weren’t

Author: T.C. Shelley

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Published: 29th September 2020

Format: Paperback

Pages: 320

Price: $14.99

Synopsis: The magical follow-up to The Monster Who Wasn’t. The second book in this brilliantly rich and strange fantasy series will make us all believe in monsters  be they good, bad or somewhere in between.

Sam might be half-monster and half-fairy, but since finding a loving family with the Kavanaghs, his daily life has been all human. And now he’s facing one of the greatest human challenges – starting secondary school.

But Sam barely has time to worry about the strange stuff teachers say (why do they call it the Great War when it sounds like was anything but great?) before he is thrust back into the world of monsters. Sam’s school friends Amira, Hazel and Wilfred reveal that they are shifters: noble twin-souled beings who live half their lives as humans and the other half as dogs. When his new friends are kidnapped one by one, Sam is dragged into an adventure that will force him to confront both halves of his own identity, monster and fairy, if he wants a chance at saving their lives …

~*~

Since saving baby Beatrice, Sam has been adopted by the Kavanaghs, and started living a normal human life – going to school and making friends. He meets Amira, Hazel and Wilfred – who soon reveal that they are shifters and are the only people who truly understand how he feels as a half-fairy, half-monster. Sam enters the world of twin-souled people and is again under threat from Maggie and the ogres, but new threats abound and Sam must find a way to save his friends and find out who he truly is in this new and rollicking adventure.

T.C. Shelley is building on the evocative and unique world she began creating in The Monster Who Wasn’t, and brings the world of monsters, ogres and fairies to life. The way she does this is unique, whilst drawing on what we know about these characters from all the fairy tales and fantasy fiction that has come before. It has echoes of the classics whilst being uniquely modern and relatable to kids these days, and is set in England, in a world of cathedrals and gargoyles, and the possibility of what those places can bring to life, as they did for Narnia, Peter Pan and many other fantasy novels that have been loved for generations.

This is set to be a fun and promising series that has exceptional storytelling, diverse characters and a sense of familiarity alongside the new. It is great for readers aged nine and older, and those who have read the first book will be delighted to see a follow-up, and the news that there is a third book advertised for 2021 in the back of the book. Sam is a great character – new to our world, yet knowledgeable in other ways. He straddles two worlds, and evokes a sense of what it means to be in a new place, and learning a new way of living.

It touches on themes of family, adoption and fostering, and what it means to find your family and autonomy over the decisions that are so often made for people. It gives Sam the power over his life, and tells children that it is okay to speak up and say how you feel. The moments with the Kavanaghs through Sam’s adoption journey are touching and emotional, and give a sense of what it means to make your own family, and what it means to have a voice, and how you can use this voice.

Friendship is a key theme as well, and I loved reading about Amira, Wilfred and Hazel accept Sam, and that he didn’t have to pretend to be someone he wasn’t with them. It was a genuine and unique friendship that everyone deserves and that is all the more powerful in childhood.

A gripping story that will continue to evolve as the series goes on.

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