Every time I have the opportunity to read an upcoming publication by Darren Simpson I lose sleep! I quite literally cannot put the book down through how immersive the environment within the respective book is, and will find myself reading into the early hours of the morning, completely losing track of all sense of time in the process. I cannot think of a better reason for skipping on a normal bedtime, because the escapism offered inside this incredibly talented writers books is worth every minute spent amongst the pages, and leaves me longing for more when the book concludes. Furthermoor is a prime example of that desire readers have for another chapter or a sequel – fingers crossed!
I have so much respect and admiration for Darren with each and every book he writes, and highly recommend you reading Scavengers and The Memory Thieves if you have yet to have the pleasure of doing so. Furthermoor is published tomorrow, 3rd March, which is fittingly World Book Day. I cannot think of a better purchase choice for your WBD token, as it is definitely an unforgettable adventure that you will not want to miss out on.
Furthermoor is a powerful read that much like the other titles Darren has written is definitely aimed at confident readers in year 6 of primary school and beyond. It is the perfect title for transition from primary to high school, and offers a great opportunity to introduce this author to readers in the final year of primary school that can then seek out his books in the library at high school during their class sessions amongst the books there. This in itself is a big deal, as many children finding it reassuring to have advanced knowledge of who they can continue to look for and enjoy. I have seen this first hand in my role as a primary school librarian.
The story is that of Bren, a young boy who is enduring bullying at his high school, and believes the best way to manage this awful situation is to keep quiet, and accept whatever it is that Shaun, the bully, does to him. There is name calling, Bren having to demean himself on demand, and often there are physical elements to it all too. The bullying that takes place within this book has all the traits of typical school bullying that children reading this book will likely have witnessed or experienced, and Darren writes of it in a sensitive manner whilst portraying every aspect of it, including that of Shaun’s home life (and the likely cause of why he is how he is).
Bren has a backstory that helps readers to understand why he is so eager to stay out of sight, and keep his head down. He lost his sister in an accident only ten months earlier, and the subsequent attention this drew to him was something he was eager to shy away from. This has helped make him an easy target to prey on, which is awful. Readers will have a lot of empathy for Bren, and quite rightly. He has endured so much at such a young age. He does however have his own special place to escape to when he is looking for calm away from the chaos, a safe haven, and somewhere he can once again be with his sister, Evie.
That place is Furthermoor, accessed through a combination of the mechanics of Evie’s watch that Bren always carries with him, and his imagination. To say that this place is beautiful is an understatement, it has breath taking landscapes and utterly stunning animals/wildlife there, and is the epitome of paradise. It is easy to understand why Bren wants to spend as much time there as possible, even to the detriment of school work and home life. I wouldn’t want to leave this haven either. This is where Bren goes when he wants to reflect on life in the real world with Evie, and the pair thrive in each others company here. But when the two worlds that Bren exists in collide everything changes.
There is so much I could discuss in relation to the journey of self discovery that Bren is on throughout this book, but in doing so I would be divulging even more of the plot, and I risk giving away too much in the process. I appreciated reading this book without knowledge of what to anticipate, and long for children to enjoy it that way too.
I will say that I got Lord of the Rings vibes from the darkness that befalls Furthermoor, and often found myself thinking of Gollum/Smagol whilst reading of the dark foe that has broken the harmony that Bren has taken for granted there. It mirrors life with Shaun in the real world, as things escalate beyond Bren’s control for him there too. It is fast paced, dark, and enduring, and above all it is an adventure that Darren has left no stone unturned in detail, depth, and an enthralling experience for readers to enjoy, all the time wishing Bren every success in his endeavours to overcome the fears he faces, and the growing doubt inside of him. I can completely appreciate the comparison to that of Coraline, especially later on in the book when fake parents make an appearance in the book, and have a real creepy appearance, much like those in Coraline.
Wow! I hope you can now appreciate why I literally didn’t put this book down from start to finish, and why I would and will be reading it again. That isn’t something I often do, nor do others, but this book draws you in, and offers such an incredible reading for pleasure experience that we all advocate, whether as parents, teachers, or librarians. This book covers so many prominent aspects of life for children that will read this book, and the fact that topics of Bullying, Grief, and Loss are covered with so much respect, empathy, and appreciation for everyone that is affected by each, and ensures that readers come away with having learnt something important along the way, as well as the content being significant to us all, whether directly or indirectly.
In conclusion, Darren Simpson has once again proven why he deserves to wear a crown in the world of children’s literature. Long past concluding this book you find yourself wondering about Bren, Evie, and even Shaun, who you also ended up having empathy for, and that is a testament to how powerful his story books are, and how talented he is a writer. Your initial perceptions of the characters are turned a full 360 as you embark on life with Bren, and this is definitely a top five read of 2022, and of the highest rated books I have personally read in my lifetime.
I love a Darren Simpson book, the first two were extremely thought provoking and very powerful.
And this one is no exception. Bren has lost his sister Evie, a sister who he adored.
And he can’t let her go so she lives on in his imagination.
If losing his sister wasn’t enough, he is also dealing with the school bully. When a new kid starts at school he makes things worse for Bren, without meaning to.
This book tackles a lot of important issues, such as bereavement, and bullying. I bet Darren’s next book will be just as important.
Be sure to read the extract from our stop on the tour check out the rest of the blog tour, via information on the banner below, for more extracts, insights, and reviews. Furthermoor is published by Usborne.