Here in Hungary we celebrate Mother’s day on the first Sunday of May and Children’s day on the last sunday. Which is to say, is today. When I was small it was something like a second Christmas or Birthday. There are several events throughout the city and the weather is usually generous for outdoor programs. I also used to get toys and gifts so it was always a good day.
As I’m reading Priest of Lies by Peter McLean currently, and one of my favorite characters happen to be Billy the Boy, a 14 year old lad, I started to think about books where children were not only side characters but had an important role. As I’m mostly reading adult fiction I went and looked at those books to pick 10 – which, let me tell you is a challenge.
The book covers are linked to the books’ GR pages.
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Okay, I’m going to start with an exception, because honestly, a bookish post about kids wouldn’t be complete without Harry Potter. My generation grew up on this series. And it’s one of my favorites as well. I’m sure a lot of you have fond memories of these characters whether they are kids or adults. I especially loved Luna with her weirdness and because even though she didn’t have much friends she still stayed true to herself and no matter how hard a situation had become, she somehow managed to stay positive. Another character I want to mention is Neville Longbottom. In my opinion he is one of the true heroes of the series. He had come a really long way throughout the series and he not only stood up against his friends but in the end for them too.
Harry Potter's life is miserable. His parents are dead and he's stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he's a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry. Though Harry's first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it's his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined. Full of sympathetic characters, wildly imaginative situations, and countless exciting details, the first installment in the series assembles an unforgettable magical world and sets the stage for many high-stakes adventures to come.
War for the Rose Throne series by Peter McLean
Since these books – Priest of Bones and Priest of Lies made me think about writing this post in the first place, would be weird if I didn’t include them. Billy the Boy is 13 years old in Priest of Bones and about 14-15 in Priest of Lies. He gets a more significant role in the second book. Billy is definitely not someone you’d want to piss off, as he is touched by Our Lady and seemingly has the cunning in him. He has seen more horror in his short life than any kid should have.
It's a dangerous thing, to choose the lesser of two evils. The war is over, and army priest Tomas Piety finally heads home with Lieutenant Bloody Anne at his side. When he arrives in the Stink, Tomas finds that his empire of crime has been stolen from him while at war. With his gang of Pious Men, Tomas will do whatever it takes to reclaim his businesses. But when he finds himself dragged into a web of political intrigue once again, and is forced to work in secret for the sinister Queen's Men, everything gets more complicated. When loyalties stretch to the breaking point and violence only leads to violence, when people have run out of food, and hope, and places to hide, do not be surprised if they have also run out of mercy. As the Pious Men fight shadowy foreign infiltrators in the backstreet taverns and gambling dens of Tomas's old life it becomes clear; the war is not over. It is only just beginning.
The Six-Gun Tarot by R.S. Belcher
The Six-Gun Tarot is the first book of the Golgotha trilogy, has a pretty wide cast of characters, but one of the main one is Jim, who at the beginning of the book arrives to this small town, Golgotha with his horse, Promise. He is about 13 years old, and had to leave his home behind after his father died and he got into an argument with his step dad. Jim joins to Mutt and John Highfather as Deputy to help to keep the peace. Which won’t held long… I’m currently rereading this one to write my review and it’s still as enjoyable as it was the first time around – thouhg it’s a bit different since I’m doing the audiobook and it needs some getting used to.
Buffy meets Deadwood in a dark, wildly imaginative historical fantasy Nevada, 1869: Beyond the pitiless 40-Mile Desert lies Golgotha, a cattle town that hides more than its share of unnatural secrets. The sheriff bears the mark of the noose around his neck; some say he is a dead man whose time has not yet come. His half-human deputy is kin to coyotes. The mayor guards a hoard of mythical treasures. A banker’s wife belongs to a secret order of assassins. And a shady saloon owner, whose fingers are in everyone’s business, may know more about the town’s true origins than he’s letting on. A haven for the blessed and the damned, Golgotha has known many strange events, but nothing like the primordial darkness stirring in the abandoned silver mine overlooking the town. Bleeding midnight, an ancient evil is spilling into the world, and unless the sheriff and his posse can saddle up in time, Golgotha will have seen its last dawn…and so will all of Creation.
Lamb by Christopher Moore
Lamb is one of my all time favorite books. It tells the story of Jesus and his childhood pal, Biff from their childhood until Jesus had become the Messiah. By the end of the book they are adults – obviously – but for about half of the book they are practically children, even if at 13 they are expected to start to work and think about getting married as was the custom for Jews at the time. I especially love this part of the book, before they start their journey. I just love Biff’s humor and seriously, everyone should read this book!
The birth of Jesus has been well chronicled, as have his glorious teachings, acts, and divine sacrifice after his thirtieth birthday. But no one knows about the early life of the Son of God, the missing years—except Biff, the Messiah's best bud, who has been resurrected to tell the story in the divinely hilarious yet heartfelt work "reminiscent of Vonnegut and Douglas Adams" (Philadelphia Inquirer). Verily, the story Biff has to tell is a miraculous one, filled with remarkable journeys, magic, healings, kung fu, corpse reanimations, demons, and hot babes. Even the considerable wiles and devotion of the Savior's pal may not be enough to divert Joshua from his tragic destiny. But there's no one who loves Josh more—except maybe "Maggie," Mary of Magdala—and Biff isn't about to let his extraordinary pal suffer and ascend without a fight.
Never Die by Rob J. Hayes
One of the MCs of Never Die is 8 years old Ein. A kind of creepy kid who recruits heroes to help him on his quest. And by recruit I mean he resurrects them. Never Die got pretty high praise from several people. It’s an Asian mythology inspired action packed book about revenge.
Ein is on a mission from God. A God of Death. Time is up for the Emperor of Ten Kings and it falls to a murdered eight year old boy to render the judgement of a God. Ein knows he can't do it alone, but the empire is rife with heroes. The only problem; in order to serve, they must first die. Ein has four legendary heroes in mind, names from story books read to him by his father. Now he must find them and kill them, so he can bring them back to fight the Reaper's war.
Danse Macabre by Laura M. Hughes
This horror novella tells the story of Blue. I really loved the amosphere of this book, and all the topics it dealt with – it’s definitely not a happy story. But we need these stories too, to remind us that not every child has a happy childhood. And Blue definitely saw a lot of horror in her short life.
The dead beckon and the little girl obeys. Night after night she answers the graveyard’s call, though she dreads her encounters with the creature that dwells there. But she’ll soon come to learn that memories are much more dangerous than monsters…
Blood of Heirs by Alicia Wanstall-Burke
In Alicia’s debut one of the MCs is a young girl, 12 years old Lidan. She wants to prove to her father that she can lead her clan if need be, and also has to stand between her parents. The other MC, Ranoth is not much older either, he is 15 year old and has to run away from home, trying to find a safe place and figure out how to go on with his unusual company.
Lidan Tolak is the fiercest of her father’s daughters; more than capable of one day leading her clan. But caught between her warring parents, Lidan’s world begins to unravel when another of her father’s wives falls pregnant. Before she has time to consider the threat of a brother, a bloody swathe is cut through the heart of the clan and Lidan must fight, not only to prove her worth, but simply to survive. Ranoth Olseta wants nothing more than to be a worthy successor to his father’s throne. When his home is threatened by the aggressive Woaden Empire, Ran becomes his city’s saviour, but powers within him are revealed by the enemy and he is condemned to death. Confused and betrayed, Ran is forced to flee his homeland, vowing to reclaim what he has lost, even if it kills him. Facing an unknown future, and battling forces both familiar and foreign, can Lidan and Ran overcome the odds threatening to drag them into inescapable darkness?
The Great Hearts by David Oliver
This is a coming to age kind of story where two boys survive the massacre at their village and find their place in an academy, where they learn combat and other useful stuff to become soldiers, Imperators for the Empire. This book stayed with me for a long time, mostly because the out of nowhere twist toward the end. And the huge panther Calidan bonds with.
Calidan Darkheart is an Imperator. The voice of the Emperor in the wild. A secretive and dangerous job, hunting down those deemed a threat to the Emperor's rule...whether monster or man. Twisted and bitter, he heads down a dark path to hunt a nightmare from his youth. This is his story. The first instalment of a new series, David Oliver's debut novel features mythical beasts, epic sword duels, dark rituals and a friendship for the ages. Following in the footsteps of authors such as Mark Lawrence, Joe Abercrombie and Brian McClellan, The Great Hearts melds gritty, vivid action with the soft, warm purr of a gigantic panther.
The Broken Empire trilogy by Mark Lawrence
Seriously, if this post wouldn’t be complete without Harry Potter then The Broken Empire trilogy has to have a place too. In Prince of Thorns Jorg is 13 years old when we first meet him and his Brothers. There isn’t a grimdark list without this trilogy on it, and that’s not a coincidence. This is a dark tale, about a boy who had to grow up too soon and who decided to take matters into his own hands, showing to his father, and eventually the world why no one should mess with him.
Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies in my mother's tomb. Now I have many brothers, quick with knife and sword, and as evil as you please. We ride this broken empire and loot its corpse. They say these are violent times, the end of days when the dead roam and monsters haunt the night. All that's true enough, but there's something worse out there, in the dark. Much worse. From being a privileged royal child, raised by a loving mother, Jorg Ancrath has become the Prince of Thorns, a charming, immoral boy leading a grim band of outlaws in a series of raids and atrocities. The world is in chaos: violence is rife, nightmares everywhere. Jorg has the ability to master the living and the dead, but there is still one thing that puts a chill in him. Returning to his father's castle Jorg must confront horrors from his childhood and carve himself a future with all hands turned against him. Mark Lawrence's debut novel tells a tale of blood and treachery, magic and brotherhood and paints a compelling and brutal, and sometimes beautiful, picture of an exceptional boy on his journey toward manhood and the throne.
Wavebreaker by A.J. Norfield
This book stands out a bit from this list, but I wanted to have 10 books picked and I have a feeling that Decan eventually will become a more significant character as the series will go on. Wavebreaker is the second book of the Stone War Chronicles, where a new plotline is being introduced to a series with Trista and her little brother Decan. Mostly Trista is in the focus between them, but as he is the only family Trista has, he is an important motivation in her decisions.
Black ships darken the sea and sky, destroying everything they encounter. High General Corza Setra has mobilized the Stone King's legions—but where is he taking them? When Trista’s village is obliterated without warning, it’s up to her to keep her little brother and newly hatched dragon safe. She’s always held her own as one of the waterclans, but will her skills as a hunter be enough for her to conquer the hardships that await them on the road ahead? Meanwhile, the pressure is on for Raylan and his friends as they flee the Dark Continent. Without their commander, the squad’s strong leadership is gone and those left struggle with the burden of the oncoming danger. Can they stop the Stone King’s forces—including the deadly ghol'ms—from ravaging the world as they know it?
Who are your favorite fantasy kids? Let me know which books you’d put on this list.