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Natasha Carthew was born and raised in Cornwall, where she still lives with her girlfriend of nineteen years. Natasha had three books of poetry published before her first novel, Winter Damage, came out in 2013. Winter Damage was nominated for the 2014 Carnegie Medal and shortlisted for several other awards including the prestigious Branford Boase Award. Natasha is a country writer who does all of her writing outside – whatever the weather – in a cabin built from scrap.
A stunningly original ocean adventure by a one-of-a-kind author whose work defies convention and abounds with a purity of ideas and execution. Kel was “always running away from something”, seeking escape “from the world she inhabited within and the world that bullied her from the outside”. She’s a swamper, born oceans apart from the wealthy tower people who live in the same Cornish coastal community. She’s also an unforgettable heroine, a girl with danger in her eyes, a baby to care for and “a stupid heart that beat wrong and was shaped wrong and had wrongness stretched clean through it”. Kel “didn’t want what the tower people had; she only wanted two things, a heart she could rely on and freedom from kin”, which is why she kidnaps Rose, the daughter of a cargo ship captain. Kel plans to use her ill-gotten gains to travel to South America to have a heart operation, because in the UK “swamp folk don’t get operations”. Aboard the ship Kel tracks down Rose and forces her to board a smaller vessel, soon running into trouble when the engine fails amidst scenes of devastation on the mainland. Steering clear of well-worn clichés, Carthew’s stories cut to the heart of human experience, often portraying and championing life’s underdogs and outsiders. What a thrilling, thought-provoking novel this is, brimming with perilous encounters, and the rawness of real-life relationships.
In a Nutshell: Raw revenge | Exploitative institution | Brightening bonds | An unforgettable novel about revenge, abuses of authority and the redemptive power of friendship. After witnessing his parents’ murder, Trey is sent to bleak Camp Kernow, a correctional institution for young offenders. Here, under the command of religious obsessives who are directed by the all-powerful Preacher, the inmates are set to work farming and slaughtering cattle in the name of salvation. But Trey has his own agenda. He’s there to avenge his parents’ killer, driven by an internal demon that “poked at him with talons and threatened to bust from the inside out”. Amidst an environment of ruthless bullying, and shocking revelations about what’s really going on around the camp, Trey forms friendships with shrewd Kay and ‘crazy’ Lamby. And when chaos is unleashed, these unexpected alliances become crucial to any chance of survival. This gripping novel explores challenging themes with ferocious flair and fearless originality. It will surely inspire much thought and discussion about, for example, what purpose revenge serves, trust, abuses of power, and whether anyone is simply “bad for the kick of things”, or whether people grow bad “like bacteria on foul meat”. Highly recommended for fans of Meg Rosoff and Patrick Ness. ~ Joanne Owen
Winter Damage is set not very far from the here and now, in a world where things have fallen apart. It is a poetic, chilling and moving debut that will embrace you in its icy grip then thaw you from the heart out. It is a book that Rebecca McNally, Publishing Director for Bloomsbury Children’s Books, loved on first reading and feels is a future classic - download a Piece of Passion from Rebecca here. In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for Winter Damage a small number of teenagers were lucky enough to be invited to review this title. Here's a taster....'Winter Damage is an intense, emotional and soul searching story following fifthteen year-old Ennor who is desperate to find her long lost mum.' Scroll down to read more.