Ahead of the announcement of our winner on Monday, we're delving a bit deeper into the 6 shortlisted entries. Read on to find out a bit more about each story.
Demon (ish) by Jenny Ireland
12 year old Carey makes a deal with a demon. The demon will help her bring her mum back from the dead under the condition that Carey helps her graduate at Halloween. Problem is, this demon is hopeless at being evil, it’s her last chance to pass, and Halloween is imminent. If the demon fails to graduate, she’ll be dusted, and she’ll drag Carey to the underworld with her.
Hallowsgate - Olivia Wakeford
London, 1884. Fred thinks if he can prove himself as an apprentice at his father’s time emporium, his father will reveal something - anything - about his long-lost mother. When his fourteenth birthday arrives, he’s sure his dream is about to come true. Except for one small problem - his father is closing up shop, and sends Fred away to work in a train yard.
Desperate to know what’s going on and, convinced it’s got something to do with all the clocks in London not running to time, Fred follows his father and ends up losing him in a world called Hallowsgate. Can Fred find his parents and the truth about who he really is before Hallowsgate - and London - literally run out of time?
Shadows of the Wild by Claire Marshall
Trapped in her strictly-controlled life of privilege in a country mansion, thirteen year-old Liv is watching her life slip by. But then. A new housekeeper arrives.
Amaya is Japanese, and she is more than she seems. She is a kunoichi - a female ninja - and she's searching for the right person to pass on to the ancient secret art of her ancestors.
What will Liv do with the extraordinary powers she learns? And why has she been taught them?
Salvage Our Souls by Chiara Bullen
When the population of her town exceeds one-thousand, Jessica's number is drawn in the Lot which sends her on the journey to the Redemption Land, a mysterious content immune to the wrath of the gods who destroy overpopulated areas. It is considered the greatest honour and those sent to the Redemption Land can expect a life of luxury.
However, when it is revealed the town census was rigged, Jessica realises the system dictating her life is a lie.
Milk Moon by Anne Boyere
Eleven-year-old Florence gets a shock when her plant-loving Clemen-Gran turns out to be a plant-eating gran. In fact, a were-cow gran.
With her older sister, Florence discovers the local island of Toussaint might hold a cure for Clemen-Gran. Or so they believe when they meet another victim of the were-cow curse. However, all is not as it seems. Their new friends have dark secrets while their grandmother’s carer, the nursing home manager - whose presence they felt as threatening - might turn out to be their best ally.
Wildlands by Emma Murphy
Since finding out about her genetic father, 14 year old Astrid has distanced herself from both her mothers. On a train from her home town of London to Glasgow, to stay with Mark - or ‘Dad’ as she’s supposed to call him – Astrid broods about the unfairness of it all.
But this train passes right through The Wildlands Project, a vast area of reestablished wildernesses that covers Northern England and Southern Scotland. When the train makes an unplanned stop, one bad decision leaves Astrid alone in the Wildlands, fighting for survival. Can she find her way back to her family, in all the ways that matter?
AND because we received so many brilliant entries, we've introduced a Highly Commended list of some brilliant stories that deserve to be recognised too!
A Boy Called Angel by Beatrice Obe: a middle grade fantasy about two orphan sisters living in the Under Underground of London, enslaved to build a time-travelling machine by the mysterious Mr. Elderthorn who has plans for the city...
Aurora's Flight by Karen Walk: a contemporary middle grade story about a girl who flees through wild waterways on a stolen boat to find her absent mother.
The Colour of Love by Heather Davey: A YA romance set in 1970s apartheid South Africa.
Miscellaneous, Spooky, Weird by Liam Hogan: A YA fantasy where goth-girl Jessica becomes apprentice to Mavis Ethelweight, England's only official witch who lives on the edge of Walthamstow marshes.
The Arsenic Labyrinthby Helen Davies: Lisa and her mum are trying to rebuild their lives in the clifftop smallholding of Wheal Bran. But when they cross paths with Oliver Kildro, a local man rumoured to have magic powers, chaos is unleashed. A middle grade story influenced by Cornish mythology and folklore.