The Name at the End of the Ladder by Elena De Roo
Walker Books, 2014. ISBN 9781922244475
(Age: 9+) Highly recommended for readers from 9-12 years. Win the game to choose your name and free the players who remain. Twelve year old September's life is about to drastically change as she is caught up in the evil schemes of Madame Alcina and her alternate reality game Names and Ladders.
Elena de Roo's innovative novel The Name at the End of the Ladder transports the reader to a new world - Name Bank City, where twelve year olds undergo a rite of passage when they receive a new name chosen by the Name Counsellors. This new title affects their personality and behaviours. When September attends her first appointment, she is drawn into the ominous game with puzzles, locked rooms and long lost children calling for her help. She meets August who is searching for his missing brother and together they attempt to strategically throw the dice and win the mysterious game. Every roll leads them further into danger. Both of them need to draw on their puzzle solving and game playing abilities to beat the evil, master manipulator Madame Alcina and her assistants.
With her first new name Melissa her life is taken over by bee-like behaviours with hard to manage consequences. When she returns for her second appointment the golden name Aurelia brings about dire outcomes, golden hair shards, gold eyelashes and a heart that becomes heavy with gold.
This novel is refreshingly original, introducing a new universe, where friends must work together to fight against evil forces.