On The Table Read, “The Best Book Reader Magazine in the UK“, teenage authors Alexandra Hart and Phoebe Sleeman release new fantasy novel, Alight.
Alexandra Hart and Phoebe Sleeman’s fantasy novel, Alight, introduces Emilie Lewis who hates the fact there’s nothing interesting about her. But even in her wildest imaginings she couldn’t dream up the world into which she is plunged, and the magic that’s bubbling away just below ‘normal’ life.
With loyalties tested and families questioned, Emilie learns how to control the light, but does that mean she can keep the darkness from invading her within?
Published on 29th March 2022, the story of how Alight was written is a story worth telling in its own right.
With the first draft started when best friends Alexandra Hart and Phoebe Sleeman were in year eight at school, the literary duo completed their accomplished debut novel six years later, prior to embarking on their university careers.
Developing a fantasy novel that isn’t about dragons and demons and that teenagers can relate to is no mean feat. But these first-time novelists do just that whilst keeping the plot relatable through the introduction of perennial tween issues including mercurial emotions, friendships, loneliness and diversity.
Fast-paced and immensely readable, Alexandra and Phoebe’s Alight is a hugely positive addition to the fantasy genre and if their first novel is anything to go by a glittering literary career lays ahead of them.
Fast Paced Fantasy
What if the line between science and magic was blurred?
Alight is about a tween with a wild imagination who discovers that even she couldn’t dream up the magical world to which she really belongs. G K Chesterton said that ‘fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.’
Whilst Alight is sadly bereft of dragons, the premise still stands. Emilie goes through a period where she hardens her heart against everything and everyone, experiences loneliness and lowness. Emilie’s journey will allow children to walk alongside her and realise that no matter how much it hurts, to love and to be vulnerable and to care are the most important things. Emilie eventually manages to defeat her dragons too.
Emilie also has to decide between biological family and a family who truly loves her. We believe that it is so important to show children that they have agency, and that family is so much more than just blood.
Alphie fearlessly choses to stick by his friend Emilie, even as she changes and grapples with difficult emotions and doesn’t give up on her, teaching friends to love unconditionally.
Alexandra Hart and Phoebe Sleeman
The authors say:
“As young teenagers we too went through a period, like Emilie, of trying to come to terms with the difficult emotions that life brings; and believe these feelings have been even further exacerbated for children in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic and lockdown.
“We also feel that diversity is a big issue in children’s literature and want everyone to feel included and be able to empathise with our characters. We have tried our best not to make our POC characters merely tokens either. Alphie is half Filipino, and the twins Lori and Zander have Nigerian heritage. Furthermore, throughout the book, although narrating, the gender of Emilie’s guardian is never revealed.
“This purposeful decision makes the guardian a little more mysterious, proving to readers that gender is not solely what defines you. This gender-blind approach is extremely relevant to current conversations over identity.”
About Phoebe And Alexandra
Phoebe and Alexandra have been best friends since the age of eleven. In Year 8, they started writing the novel that they themselves had always longed to read. Six years and many hours later, they finished their debut novel and started at Durham University together in September 2020.
Both of them write for online magazines and frequently dabble in a bit of light poetry.
Studying English and history respectively as BA (Hons), the pair received straight A*s at A-levels and completed 21 GCSEs between them. Writing has brought the duo even closer together, sharing the innermost secrets of their imaginations and pouring their hearts and souls into their shared endeavour.
Find More Now:
Published by Cranthorpe Millner Publishers, on 29th March 2022, Alight is available in paperback (£8.99) and Kindle format Waterstones | Foyles | Amazon | Cranthorpe Millner
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