Pick of 2011:
The Outcasts by John Flanagan (Random House Australia)
Vikings! Pirates! Adventure! Oh my – a recipe for my love.
The Outcasts is a medieval high school story scattered with just enough fantasy tropes to make you want to hug a grizzled mentor. Its real strength, however, is Flanagan’s deft characterisation. The reason it wins my personal pick of 2011 is that all eight(!) members in the titular brotherband have been gifted a unique voice. (Well… all except the identical twins, that is.)
Most anticipated for 2012:
Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin)
A complex and intriguing tale about Rollrock Island and its infamous sea-wives – women conjured out of seals at the hands of the witch Misskaella. Sea Hearts has all the joy, sadness, and quiet desperation that you would hope for in a Margo Lanagan story, while her poetic turn of phrase is as captivating as the eyes and lips of any selkie. Look for it from February 2012.