Coming to the US this coming winter from Australia's Text Publishing via Consortium – I was lucky to get to read a copy of the Australian edition. Bartlett's manuscript for Fire In The Sea won the 2011 Text Prize for Young Adult and Children's Writing. (The next winner of the Text Prize will be announced at the end of May!) This has been the book I've turned to for complete reading satisfaction over the last couple of days.
Fire In The Sea is a YA supernatural thriller set in the middle of a bone-dry Perth summer, starring your seemingly-typical YA heroine: a girl surrounded by the tedious sameness of her friends and family, while inwardly dealing with the tragedy of the loss of her parents. Sadie's inner strength is shown in the very opening pages, when she rushes headlong to save an old man on the beach from what looks like a completely random attack.
Sadie soon learns that nothing is as she believes it to be. Everything around her has layers and levels that were previously unseen and unknown to her - a titanic battle of the gods, mythic figures from our past, conflicts and betrayals and their consequences.
So many YA books begin this way - from Harry Potter on - that it's hard to mark out new territory. But trust me - this is no Lost Hero Under the Stairs story and Sadie's awakening is not of the "Off to Hogwarts" variety. Imagine a YA novel from the perspective of a character who has popped up in the middle of one of Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics. That's the kind of story going on here.
Booksellers: Seek out your Consortium sales rep to get an advance copy this summer. This is a new voice you'll want to know about.
Fire in the Sea
by Myke Bartlett
Text Publishing / Consortium | 9781921922749 | $9.95 | Feb 2014