Shadow Runners by Daniel Blythe

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Shadow Runners series, Book 1. Chicken House, 2012. 243 pp
(Ages: 10-16) In this story we go on a journey into the supernatural with our at times reluctant teenage heroine, Miranda May. Set in a small English seaside town the book is distinctly English in many of its references but still accessible for Australian audiences. The scene is set when Miranda moves to a new town after a family tragedy. It isn't long before strange things start happening, not just around her but also to her. Finding it hard to fit in Miranda is soon torn between two friendship groups, a girl who has similar interests to her, and a mismatched group who seem to know much more about the odd things happening in the town than she does. Soon drawn into their mysterious group Miranda starts to question everything and everyone she knows and is soon caught in the middle of a mission to track down the dangerous shadowy evil that threatens to destroy them all.
Themes of friendship, special abilities and the hidden paranormal activity hiding in dull towns abound in this fast-paced and intelligent book. The last chapter names the group of teens as 'the shadow runners' and sets the scene for a plethora of follow up titles for this new series. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story especially as it was full of believable teenage voices, wit and banter. This is primarily achieved through the set up of the book as the diary of Miranda which allows for her attitude and personality to shine though in the text.
Although at times corny, implausible and overly exacting in its explanation (perhaps not giving the reader enough credit) the book is engaging and keeps suspense high with many twists, turns and surprises. This story has little or no potential for classroom use but will be enjoyed by younger readers who enjoy supernatural stories set in the everyday world. The very subtle incorporation of a hint of boy-girl adoration and the incorporation of some complex ideas unnecessary for plot understanding make the book appealing to a broad age range.
Nicole Smith-Forrest