Review Blog

Mar 29 2011

Zac and the Dream Pirates by Ross Mackenzie

cover image

Chicken House, 2010.
(Ages 7+) Zac has always felt like an outsider and is forever defending his Grandmother when kids his own age accuse her of being a witch. Imagine Zac's surprise when he follows Granny one night and tumbles into another world on the other side of sleep. The land of Nocturne is full of powerful magic that spills from peoples' dreams. However, the Dream Pirates are trying to take control of Nocturne through dark magic which is slowly poisoning the dream world. Only the three Knights of Nod can save the day but their identity remains a mystery.
It is up to Zac and his new friends to try and free Nocturne from the evil grip of the Dream Pirates. With an airship pilot to help them (shades of Less Scoresby in Northern Lights) and Vampires and werewolves on their tail, they face Shadow, leader of the Pirates in a thrilling adventure.
By the end of the story we know that Zac himself is one of the Knights of Nod, but who are the others? A tantalising glimpse is offered when a mysterious young werewolf (who should really be one of the bad guys) helps Zac escape a sticky situation. Readers will have to await the next in the series to learn more.
Some say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and Zac and the Dream Pirates has certain parallels with Harry Potter and His Dark Materials. However, this is a story aimed at a younger audience. The unusual setting, magical realism and twin plot lines are very appealing and it's especially good for youngsters who crave vampires and werewolves, but are not quite ready for the likes of Darren Shan. Already on the Long-List for the Stockport School's Book Award, I predict this will be a strong contender for top prize in the 7-11 category.
Claire Larson

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