Red Rocks by Rachael King

A great book can transport you to a place that you’ve never been to.  You can picture it so vividly in your mind and you can smell the smells, feel the warm sun on your skin or the biting wind in your bones.  I especially love books set in New Zealand, because they can show me a part of the country that I’ve never seen and make me want to visit it desperately, just so I can imagine the characters walking around the place.  Rachael King’s new book for younger readers, Red Rocks, transported me to Wellington’s wild south coast and immersed me in a magical story about the mystical selkies.

While holidaying at his father’s house, Jake explores Wellington’s wild south coast, with its high cliffs, biting winds, and its fierce seals. When he stumbles upon a perfectly preserved sealskin, hidden in a crevice at Red Rocks, he’s compelled to take it home and hide it under his bed, setting off a chain of events that threatens to destroy his family. Can he put things right before it’s too late?

Red Rocks is a magical adventure story, set in New Zealand, that children and adults alike will love.  Rachael King has taken the Celtic myth of the selkies and transplanted it into a New Zealand setting that kiwi kids will relate to.  Jake is an average kid who gets sent to live with his dad for a few weeks, and like any kid, soon gets bored and sets off to explore the coast.  I really liked Rachael’s interesting cast of characters, from old Ted who lives in a run-down shack along the coast, to the mischievous Jessie and mysterious Cara.  Jake’s dad is a positive father figure who cares a lot about his son (something that I like to see in children’s fiction and is often missing).   There is a hint of darkness running throughout the story (you’ve probably already guessed this if you know the myth of the selkies) and you get a feeling of foreboding right from the start.

One thing that I particularly love about Red Rocks is Rachael King’s beautiful writing.  She’s very descriptive so she paints a vivid picture of the wild, windy coast.  It’s the sort of book that you want to read snuggled up in bed because you almost feel the biting wind and the freezing ocean.

Red Rocks is perfect for age 9+ and would be a great read-aloud for Year 5-8.    Grab a copy from your library or bookshop now.  You can also enter my Red Rocks competition to win a copy.

5 out of 5 stars

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