Recommended October YA books & events

This month we have blockbuster fantasy, a sophisticated look at modern gaming, an homage to 1950s horror movies, a gritty Australian contemporary read and satisfying horror.

Find our October picks for kids books here.



Angel Mage by Garth Nix

Liliath, a powerful angel mage that has been dead for 140 years is back to revive her destructive plans – and she will need four special teens to help her achieve them. Agnez the aspiring musketeer, Simeon the caring doctor, Dorotea the talented icon-maker, and Henri, clerk to the Cardinal are drawn into Liliath’s world-destroying plot, and must work together to uncover the mysteries surrounding the original destruction of their kingdom.

Beloved Australian fantasy writer Garth Nix’s latest YA novel is set in the alternate 17th century, where humans can use icons to magically summon and control angels. Our reviewer Joe loved this stunningly realised world of Nix’s, saying that ‘he has created something special here which will entrance you from cover to cover – utterly creative, yet as grounded as a historical novel.’

You can read our full review here.



The Secret Commonwealth (The Book of Dust, Volume 2) by Philip Pullman

It’s been two decades since the events of La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust, Volume 1) and ten years since the close of the His Dark Materials trilogy. Lyra Silvertongue is now twenty-years-old and her relationship with her dæmon Pan has changed in a way she never anticipated, nor knows how to fix. Meanwhile, dark forces are moving behind the scenes.

Our reviewer Bronte says this novel ‘fizzes simultaneously with ideas and moments of nerve-frying, nail-biting tension. Lyra, Pan and Malcolm are all on journeys in this new story – their travels taking them as far away as Prague and Smyrna – and all the while, there are whispered rumours of a desert city haunted by lone dæmons.’

You can read our full review here.


Invisible Boys by Holden Sheppard

Three sixteen-year-old boys living in the small Western Australian town of Geraldton struggle to be themselves in Holden Sheppard’s bracing and authentic debut novel. Charlie is a hardcore rocker, who’s not as tough as he looks. Hammer is a footy jock with big AFL dreams, and an even bigger ego. Zeke is a shy over-achiever, never macho enough for his family. All three boys are coming to terms with their homosexuality in a place where it is kept invisible, and the threat of violence is all too real.

Invisible Boys is a much-needed exploration of the complexities and trauma of rural gay identity in Australia. It touches on issues of masculinity, anger, identity, belonging and suicide, and is an honest, confronting and ultimately hopeful read.


SLAY by Brittney Morris

SLAY is an online multi-player virtual-reality game designed exclusively for black players, a safe space where kids across the world log-in to duel as powerful heroes. No one knows that seventeen-year-old student Kiera Johnson is its genius creator, not even her family or boyfriend Malcolm. But when a teen is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, the media drums up a controversy, labelling SLAY an exclusionist, racist hub for thugs. Kiera has to fight hard for control of her online commmunity and keep her identity secret.

Our reviewer Georgia highly recommends this thoughtful plot-driven novel, saying: ‘fast-paced action is carefully balanced with a reader-conscious exploration of the complexities of race and cultural identity, while also highlighting very real issues in gaming and contemporary online culture.’

You can read our full review here.


Attack of the 50 Foot Wallflower by Christian McKay Heidicker

Phoebe and her mum Loretta are constantly on the run, fleeing from a variety of monsters thanks to advance warnings from Phoebe’s dad, a giant man who lives in the sky. All Phoebe wants is to stop running and start living a monster-free life in New York or Paris, but when her mom Loretta mysteriously vanishes Phoebe has to fend for herself in the small town of Pennybrooke. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any weirder, cue the sleazy police, secret underground government research lab members, and an evil half-sister.

Our reviewer Dani appreciated both the lighter and more serious sides to this loving homage to 1950s movies: ‘For a fun and silly romp through the world of B-grade horror movies, a lot of heavy topics are dealt with in this book, from America’s treatment of its peoples, to how religion and government should fit in to society.’

You can read our full review here.


Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall

Becca Donoghue and her boyfriend disappeared a year ago, and Becca’s sister Sara has never believed the explanation that her sister ran away. She knows the truth: her sister went looking for the ghost of Lucy Gallows and got trapped on her road. The local lore of the small town of Briar Glen is clear: once a year, if you follow the correct steps, a road opens up in the forest and the ghost of Lucy beckons. Gathering a disparate group of former friends together, Sara sets out to test this local legend and soon they’re on a terrifying and surreal journey. The Road has seven gates, and rules, and those who break the rules will pay a toll in blood.

Our reviewer Pilgrim was hugely impressed by this high-quality horror story that ‘blends the thrills of a good campfire legend with the intrigue of The X Files, and quickly descends into a dark and monstrous world in the tradition of H.P. Lovecraft.’

You can read our full review here.


It’s short notice, but on Thursday 3 October at Readings Kids, award-winning Western Australian YA author A.J. Betts will be talking about her latest book, Rogue, with Adele Walsh.

Join ARIA Award-winning singer and actress Clare Bowditch on Monday 28 October at The Melbourne Athenaeum as she celebrates the release of her heartbreaking, wise and playful memoir, Your Own Kind of Girl. Bookings are essential – find out more here.

We are beside ourselves to have fantasy master Garth Nix coming in to Readings Hawthorn to talk about his new book, Angel Mage on Thursday 31 October. This event is free, but please book here.

And please put this November date in your diaries!

At 4pm on Saturday 16 November at Readings Hawthorn, Scott Westerfeld will be joining us to talk about Shatter City, the second book in the New York Times bestselling Impostors series. This event is also free, but please book here.

Leanne Hall is a children’s and YA specialist at Readings Kids. She also writes books for children and young adults.

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Angel Mage

Angel Mage

Garth Nix

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