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Jodi McAlister

Valentine is the first in a page-turning young adult series featuring Pearl and Finn, from explosive new talent Jodi McAlister.

What exactly happened the night Marie disappeared? Pearl was at that party - she saw the black horse - but when parts of Marie’s dismembered body show up, she realises something seriously sinister is going on.

And when the same black horse turns up in Pearl’s backyard and leaves her in a coma for three days, she realises two more things.

1.) This is more than sinister. This is supernatural.
2.) The boy who woke her up is mixed up in it.

That boy is Finn, the boy with whom Pearl shares a birthday, the boy she has known all her life and disliked every second of it. Even if her subconscious has a totally annoying crush on him.

Pearl finds out that Finn has powers she could never have imagined. He can heal. He can walk in dreams. He can make people see things that aren’t there. He can’t touch iron without being burned. But what is he?

Well… Finn doesn’t know. But as if Pearl would be satisfied with that kind of answer…


Traditional fairy lore is transplanted into a small-town Australian location in Jodi McAlister’s debut novel, Valentine, and given a thoroughly contemporary spin.

A frightening black horse appears at a seventeenth-birthday party and a guest goes missing. The girl happens to be one of four local teenagers who were all born on the same Valentine’s Day. This opening drama signals the beginning of a series of sinister occurrences in Haylesford: the appearance of unusual numbers of black animals, inexplicable illnesses, projectile rocks and further disappearances.

At the centre of the action are two of the other Valentine’s – highly reactive Pearl, and the object of her hate-lust, schoolmate Finn. After Pearl survives a life-threatening mystical coma with Finn’s help, the two teens attempt to get their heads around an incredible and dangerous puzzle that involves a fairy changeling, mistaken identity and warring fairy factions.

When so much urban fantasy comes to us from overseas, it’s refreshing to read a story containing so much that is recognisably Australian. Supernatural elements combine well with the stuff of ordinary teenage life: classes, homework, hook-ups, schoolyard politics, Facebook and smartphone use. A large cast of characters in Haylesford keeps suspicions accelerating and stakes high. I particularly liked the warm depiction of Pearl’s unconventional family life with her older brother and sister. This is one for readers aged 13 and over who love a fast-paced, high-energy story with romance, action, moderate amounts of gore and old-school scary fairy-folk.

Leanne Hall is a children’s and YA specialist at Readings Kids. She is also the Grants Officer for the Readings Foundation.

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