Very very exciting books

    Nelson – the sailor who dared all to win

    At the battle of Trafalgar, Britain was saved from invasion by Napoleon’s armies. More than half the population of Britain has never heard of Admiral Nelson, and half of those who have are under the impression that he commanded British forces at Waterloo. This readable and exciting life of Nelson, with the emphasis on personal struggle, cannon fire, sea battle and victory, tells the essential story of the man without whose skill at sea we might all be speaking French.

  • Pegleg

    There are spies at work on the Isles of Scilly, and the orphan Gussie Smith is on their trail. But you can’t chase spies from behind a school desk. Which means that Welfare Snell, the mean-minded Truant Officer, is on Gussie’s trail. It looks like the end result will be a grim life for Gussie with his nasty uncle on the mainland, and a grimmer life for Grannie Dole, his guardian, in the Bide-a-wee Home for the Elderly. Unless Gussie gets his man….

  • Pig in the Middle

    Wester Aist is a tiny village on the west coast of Scotland. Alec Whean is the worst boy in the village, until he befriends a baby seal he find stranded in a lagoon at low tide. But there are other people in the village interested in the seal. People like the fisherman Ivan the Horrible, who reckons seals eat fish, and need shooting. Can Alec save Pig the seal? You bet he can.

  • Eye of the Cannon

    It is hard, if you are a girl in 1814 who is interested in ships. What you have to do is dress up as a boy, and go exploring. What you do not have to do is fall asleep on a Royal Navy ship, and wake up to find yourself out of sight of land, mistaken for one of the crew, chasing an American man-of-war. But that is what Kate Griffiths does. The Rope School is the story of her accidental stowing away, and the changes that happen to her life as a result.

  • Wonderdog

    Bag is a Welsh sheepdog,, and too clever for his own good. He is always anxious to please, but somehow things do not work out as he intends. After his mistakes have resulted in the de-roofing of the farmhouse, the biting of a neighbour, and the discovery of the local vicar in a low den of whisky-drinkers on a Sunday, it looks as if it may be all over for him. But Cwm sheepdog trials are coming. Will he redeem himself? Knowing Bag, you would have to say probably not….

  • The Magic Boathouse

    The School for Forgotten Orphans are going on holiday with their ghastly teacher Mr Barge. In the boathouse at the cottage they are visiting sits an old man with a huge trumpet.. The trumpet is a foghorn – an unusual foghorn. Instead of warning people, it summons the mists of time. And what comes out of the mists of time can be very, very surprising. Particularly for Mr Barge.

  • The Polecat Cafe

    In a dark, rainy wood is a mushroom with smoke coming out of it. This is the chimney of the Polecat Cafe, an eaterie renowned among the wood’s inhabitants. A bit too renowned, really. It is all right feeding hedgehogs and badgers and similar. But there are animals in the wood that are much, much older. And much, much, much bigger. And some of them have no manners at all…..

Very Exciting Very Funny Books

Little Darlings

I wrote this book as an act of revenge against Peter Pan, a twee and sentimental book that stresses the most glutinous parts of the British character. Little Darlings is the story of some children who have been ignored by their parents and brought up by grim, vicious nannies. When the children run away with the burglars who have come to pinch the family silver, they find that compared to themselves, burglars are kind, naive and sweet-natured. The children resolve to put this right. In the process, they make some very surprising discoveries.

‘Every now and then, a children’s book comes along that is completely different. Little Darlings is one of these’
The Sunday Times Book of the Week review.

Bad, bad Darlings

At the end of Little Darlings, the Darling children and their long-lost Mum had taken command of the liner SS Kleptomanic and its crew of highly-trained burglars. Now they have arrived in the American city of Neverglade, where the sun is hot, the coconuts grow all year round, and the rich people are sooooooo rich they are just asking to be burgled. Things are going really well until Papa Darling, tiring of his healthy but unpleasant job cleaning the Lower Deck Lavs, escapes and tries to make a deal with the terrifyingly ghastly Gomez Elegante. And his even more ghastly and terrifying son Gomez Junior….

Desperado Darlings
The Darlings are on the move again. The mighty liner SS Kleptomanic has been wrecked. Luckily, the clever burglars have managed to nick an absolutely enormous and absolutely charming yacht, which they have called the Kleptomanic II (obviously). But strange forces are at work, calling them to the absolutely disgusting country of Nananagua, once a democracy, now a Nanny State. Who is it that is calling Chief Engineer Crown Prince Beowulf of Iceland to a date with Destiny? And why? And does anyone care? The Darlings must find out. And as they find out, you can bet that there will be plenty of trouble. Ooooooooooooooh yes. Or as they say in Nananagua, Si….

The Return of Death Eric
All right, all right. I used to be in a band, playing very loud music in very low cellars. So of course I had to write a rock and roll story. And the only kinds of rock and roll story worth telling are the rags-to-riches biopic (been done) and the Comeback (also been done, but hey, it’s a great tune, why not play it again?) So welcome to the world of guitar hero Eric Thrashmettle, dozens of roadies, a band that doesn’t want to play any more, a rock and roll wife who thinks she’s a guru, and the Thrashmettle kids, who wish their dad would stop going on about having been cursed by a raven and get on with it….

The Haunting of Death Eric
This story is a feedback metal remix of the Canterville Ghost, if that means anything. If it doesn’t, try this:
All guitar heroes need a castle for when the tabloids get on their case. Eric Thrashmettle has found one and bought it. Unfortunately it seems to come with a rather bad-tempered ghost. And not only a ghost, but quite a lot of Honganian vampires, and (worse) skveezebox players, who are trying to eat their Heavy Pies and play their terrible music in the middle of his lovely Feedback Metal concerts. The Thrashmettle children, bright and cunning as ever, must make friends with the ghost to get rid of the vampires. Sounds easy, right? Well, it isn’t…..


This is the story on which all later Arthurian tales are based. It has monsters, a sword in a stone, and a rightful King. But unlike other Arthur tales, it has bottomless wells in which monsters swim. In these wells factory owners go fishing, for the monsters burn when exposed to air, and make a powerful fuel, able to melt metal and make stone run like water. The trouble is, the more monsters they catch, the further the land of Lyonesse sinks. It is already far below sea level when Arthur appears on the scene. Can he save his land from drowning?

The Isles of Scilly have always been supposed to be all that remains of the green, wooded lands of Lyonesse. They are a few beautiful crumbs of granite scattered over the turquoise sea thirty miles west of Land’s End, Britain’s most southwestern point. The islands are dotted with prehistoric tombs. At low water, the remnants of cyclopean walls can be seen snaking from island to island along the bottom of the sea. My mother’s family have lived there for six generations. My childhood was full of tales about a sinking of the land that transformed Scilly from a range of mountains into an archipelago, and a world in which people knew how to exchange thoughts with animals – the birds and beasts of Scilly are still remarkably tame.

In the tales, it was not only Scilly that had sunk. In the mid-18th century, fishermen in the Atlantic trawled up window-frames that they assumed came from a drowned village. A petrified forest lurks deep under the sands of Mount’s Bay. Just as it was common knowledge on Scilly that Lyonesse had sunk, it was also common knowledge that Lyonesse had been the home of Arthur, or Idris as he was called. We believed in dragons, monsters, star and stone, and that all actions had consequences. I was born in a room overlooking the body of water from which the sword Excalibur came, and into which it was flung. I grew up with the certainty that Arthur and Tristan and Morgan and the rest of them originated here and in the related French Atlantis of Ys. While Lyonesse has featured as a springboard for the wilder type of fantasy, it has had no real chronicler. I decided that this was something I needed to put right.

In a proper legendary universe Lyonesse cannot sink as a matter of mere geology. It is human wickedness that must cause the inundation, and human virtue that must strive to keep it above water. Idris, I was assured since earliest years, was a good person because he saw that his actions had consequences for others; Murther/Mordred and his monstrous gang were evil because they were interested in the hoggish pursuit of power for its own sake, whatever the consequences for other people. Certainly some readers may find in the story of Lyonesse parallels with the world we live in now.

The battle between the dark and the light lives strongly in my heart. So do the stones and islands of Scilly that are all that remain of the mountains of Lyonesse, and the sun that still shines over Lyonesse, and the gales that still blow there. I visit them often. I am glad that I now have a chance to take you with me.

Book 1, The Well Between the Worlds, was published in spring 2009
Book 2, Darksolstice, is published in spring 2010

© 2020 Sam Llewellyn