Tag Archives: Teri Terry

Sweet sixteen

A year ago Bookwitch ruminated on what sells and what she reads and why.

Today I’m – because we are the same, Bookwitch and I – thinking about the effect Bookwitching has had not just on me but on the young and innocent, like Daughter. We have both put sixteen behind us – but only just. Obviously. Today it’s Bookwitch’s turn to hum ‘She was only sixteen…’

As you may have gathered, Daughter has recently moved and has some vintage shelves to arrange with books. And, it seems, a polar bear. Also two bookmarks, one of which I was intrigued to find personally dedicated and signed by Michelle Magorian.

This is the effect I mean. Somehow a lot of young literature has happened to Offspring. The vintage shelves I mentioned seem to contain mostly books by people I ‘know’ and who Daughter has met through being dragged on bring-your-child-to-work days.

There are an inordinate number of Cathy Hopkins books, and that’s as it should be. Likewise Caroline Lawrence and Liz Kessler and Jacqueline Wilson. Although the latter has had to be pruned down to more manageable numbers of books.

I won’t list them all, but basically, the story of Bookwitch can be seen on these shelves. There won’t be so many new ones, as the e-reader has taken over. This is just as well, because however lovely the vintageness from the local auction-hunter, a flat has only so much space.

Apologies for the tile samples. There is a kitchen splashback to deal with. And I would like it to be known that that book by Vaseem Khan has been ‘borrowed’ from a kind parent.


Ships, and paradise

It was the ‘Ship with no harbour‘ I thought of first. Was it last month? Time is strange right now. But anyway, those cruise ships that weren’t allowed to put into harbour in the Far East because of the contagion on board.

I felt there were many parallels with Lisa Tetzner’s novel set in the late 1930s, where poor, and ill, Europeans tried to start a new life in South America. But no country wanted them so they sailed on. And on.

Closer to home [Scotland] we have Teri Terry’s Contagion from three years ago. That was pretty terrible. I’m not even going to mention percentages here. I was only able to like it because it was so very fictional.

And that witchy feeling I had about the current Bookwitch Towers? I wasn’t sure what bad stuff I was expecting until Brexit happened. Then I ‘knew.’ That’s what was going to forcibly remove me from here. Maybe.

Then there’s the television drama from 2003, Virus au Paradis. I loved it at the time. It, too, was fictional. It was, wasn’t it? But I feel a lot worse about it now.

At the moment, I can only read nice fluffy books. I can only bear watching nice fluffy films. Before long I’ll be nothing but nice and fluffy.

They come in waves, don’t they?

‘What if I say Beverley Naidoo?’ I asked.

I had been talking YA authors with someone; someone who had only started reading YA not very long ago. And I wasn’t thinking, so mentioned Celia Rees and was met by a blank stare. It’s understandable. If you are recommended books to try right now, it will be the most talked about books and authors, plus some olden goldies like Philip Pullman and David Almond. Names ‘everyone’ has heard of.

Whereas when I began reading current YA novels 20 or 25 years ago, there was no Meg Rosoff or Keren David or Angie Thomas. At the time Celia Rees and Beverley Naidoo were the reigning queens to me, along with Gillian Cross and Anne Cassidy. Adèle Geras and Mary Hoffman and Linda Newbery. Anne Fine. Malorie Blackman.

No matter how many I list here, I will forget someone really important. Most of them still write and publish, but perhaps not as frequently as before.

There’s the group of authors who appeared when Bookwitch [the blog] was in her infancy, with 2010 being a particularly fruitful year. Candy Gourlay and Keren David, followed by Teri Terry and Kathryn Evans. Again, I will have left someone out.

And now, those ladies have many books under their belts, and there is a new wave of YA authors. I mentioned Angie Thomas, because she’s brand new, both in the book world, and to me. She’s also American, which seems to be where things are happening now.

When I reviewed Celia’s latest novel, I compared it to Truth or Dare, and her reaction to that was that I’m probably the only person who’s been around long enough to have read both it, and the new book. This struck me as silly, as surely everyone would have read Truth or Dare. Wouldn’t they? Well, they haven’t, and it’s not lack of dedication, or anything. Most YA readers don’t last a couple of decades. Real, young people, grow up, and move on to other stuff. And if you’re already ‘old’ and catching up, you can’t read everything.

But when I first met Beverley Naidoo, I almost curtsied.


Teri Terry writes great YA fiction. It’s dystopia at its best; very moreish and as entertaining as a look at a possible bad future can be. This needs to be said. I enjoyed reading her Slated trilogy a few years ago. Yes, it was bad. But it was in the future, and it seemed to be fairly far removed from anything we know now.

Now though, with her prequel Fated, I am in a state of shock and as fearful as I’ve ever been from reading dystopic fiction. The action has moved to today, and it is far too easily recognisable a world. Most of Fated [probably] takes place in 2024, but with some of the important changes in that world having happened in [I think] 2018.

Teri Terry, Fated

This is nowhere as easy to read about as the future in 2054. It is too close to home.

Or is it home? Britain has left the EU and closed its borders to Europe. It has told its foreign residents to leave, or to stay and have virtually no rights. People are starving. The country has a female Prime Minister, running the country with the support of another political party, which seems to have given up on its principles.

Does anything here sound familiar?

Not having so many foreigners to blame for terrorism, they are pointing the finger at children. They come up with the most dreadful policies to ‘save’ the country.

Fated shows clearly how a terrorist is made. You’re not born bad; you are pushed into bad behaviour, or seemingly bad behaviour, by the government and the police. The ‘slating’ that happened in the trilogy was bad. But it’s nothing compared to what went before it, now that we know the background.

The two main characters are 16-year-old Sam, daughter of the Deputy PM, and Ava, the intelligent but poor 17-year-old daughter of a former academic – now a taxi driver – and his Swedish wife. A wife who left the country when it closed its borders.

Can you see where I’m going with this?

On Teri’s request some time last year, I provided her with a Swedish lullaby, an endearment and my opinion on Swedish health care. I’d almost forgotten about it, but thought I could always make some lighthearted comment about it here.

I don’t think I can.

What if I’m Ava’s mother?

If you think you know how far an author can go in a non-adult novel; think again. Admittedly, a prequel to a dystopian trilogy can’t be all sunshine and roses, but this is far worse than you imagined.

But as I said, it’s a real page-turner and very well written and plotted.


Teri Terry's Dark Matter trilogy

Contagion, Deception, and now Evolution. Teri Terry’s Scottish dystopia has finally come to an end. I know – roughly – how things came about. And I’m obviously not telling you. But it was more or less as I thought, based on what happened at the very beginning. One should always pay attention, even when it’s rather unclear what’s going on.

And those cats. They knew what was what.

Megalomania is never good, and people do bad things to others. A charismatic megalomaniac is even worse, and that’s what we have here.

I know I’m unlikely to have survived what happens in these books, if it had happened in real life. But at least it was only 80% or so who died. It’s quite easy to get so caught up by the ‘adventure’ or the ‘mystery’ that you forget that reality check where there’s a lot of death and much unhappiness and suffering because of it.

But it’s been exciting, and entertaining, and when you’re inside the head of someone not quite as sane as you’d like, it can be hard to actually realise that you’re being manipulated too.

For anyone who’s yet to read this trilogy, you’ve got about a thousand pages of death and destruction, with much courage and a bit of romance  thrown in. It’s good.


My heart is still beating. I mean, that is obviously good, but it did go thump thump thump rather a lot towards the end of Teri Terry’s Deception, the sequel to Contagion. This, too, ends with, if not exactly a cliffhanger, then with lots of questions left unanswered. And there has been much deception, and probably will be even more in the last instalment.

Teri Terry, Deception

More people die. Lots more. So if this was real, I’d definitely be dead. And as in Contagion, Teri kills both good characters and bad ones.

The disease keeps spreading. The carrier knows it’s their doing, but for a long time no one else realises who’s the guilty party.

We gain a few more major characters, because all this couldn’t be left to Shay and Kai and Callie to sort out. Some of them die. Some don’t. Not necessarily the right ones. But I quite like the set-up over dinner one night when one character demands of another that she teaches them to kill. ‘Show us again,’ … ‘If anyone comes around with a flame-thrower I want to be sure how to do it.’

The bad guy has become more obvious in Deception. Unless he’s merely misunderstood, of course. But I don’t think so. And while believing that we all have some good and some bad in us, I’m not counting on this one rescuing us all in the end.

There is deception in most of us too. We don’t always admit to everything, and sometimes we deceive. Intentionally. All is fair in love and war?

If you want a dystopic thriller, Teri Terry is your woman.


To be honest, I’d been expecting the cliffhanger in Teri Terry’s Contagion to be, well, cliffier. So many readers before me had exclaimed about being left hanging. So, yes, I knew it was coming. Not that I will require a cliffhanger to motivate me to read on, when the time comes. Which I would like to be sooner rather than later, but the Witch who waits for something good…

It’s very much a ‘whew!’ story. This dystopia is set in a place close to me, in what feels like today. There is even a female PM. The thing about Teri’s writing is that she takes topics that could be quite distasteful and that would turn people off, but the way she writes about these very horrible things makes it – almost – all right.

It’s obviously not OK that 95% of people die, but looking on the bright side, 5% survive. As in the Slated trilogy Teri has some great mothers. I wish more fiction had good mother figures.

Teri Terry, Contagion

Set in and around Scottish Killin, plus places from Newcastle to Shetland, Contagion features Callie, a missing 11-year-old girl, her older brother Kai and Shay, the girl who last saw Callie. Somehow they end up at the centre of an epidemic that kills fast, and when they realise that all is not as it should be, even under these circumstances, they decide to get to the bottom of what’s happening.

Perhaps Shay is slightly too clever even for a fictional, 16-year-old heroine with exceptional talents, but I like her. It’s good to find someone who can be both cool and interested in science and more than capable at maths. Kai is very handsome. Naturally. And Callie is quite unusual in many ways.

I have great hopes for the next instalment, with fingers crossed that somebody will survive, and doing my best not to ponder that I probably wouldn’t have, had this been real.

The author effect

I mentioned that Teri Terry made a return visit to a school when she was in Scotland the other week. I had assumed it was because she’d made a really good impression and they wanted her back. Then I learned that she wrote a character for her new book, Contagion, who goes to that very school.

A few weeks earlier Lari Don talked about a chat with someone who was now an adult, but who remembered an author visit to his school when he was younger. It had made a great impression on him, and had got a non-reader started on reading, which he still did.

So, all was good. It’s such an encouraging story to hear; to discover that author visits to schools really can make a difference.

Lari then asked who the author was. But he couldn’t remember. And I’m with Lari on this one – it’s even more impressive that the visit made such an impact, but that it became immaterial who the visitor was. Maybe a big name, or perhaps someone virtually unknown. But they made a difference.

Maybe one day a Callander student will tell their children about the time his or her school ended up in a novel. And maybe it won’t matter if they remember it was written by Teri.


Yes. I do eat all the time. Brunch last week. Dinner this week.

Thank goodness for travelling authors, who come and bring excitement in the midst of getting on wrong trains and talking in schools and all that.

As I mentioned before, Teri Terry has come to Stirling for its book festival, and she wasn’t too tired to agree to dinner last night with the local witch. She also introduced me to author Moira Mcpartlin, who was kind enough to drive us to a very nice restaurant that she had chosen (I don’t go much past Pizza Express), so the Resident IT Consultant was not needed, and it was all civilised.

I felt almost like a grown-up.

We talked about Teri’s new book Contagion, which is partly set in Killin and Callander, and that is why she returned to the same school as on her last visit. (Maybe she kills someone off?) I will be able to tell you more once I’ve read the book. So for now we will leave the idea of Contagion somewhere not too far from here and hope all will be well. Well-ish, at least.

But somewhere between my cauliflower starter and the main course I ended up signing a non-disclosure form, so I’m terribly sorry but I can’t tell you a thing.

Actually, I’m not sorry. But it seemed politer to say I am.

So, lots of lovely gossip. But I’m old and it has already been forgotten, even without the form.

Although, it might be OK if I mention the mould. In places where it shouldn’t be. And places with no taxi ranks. Which is not true of Bathgate, which does have one.

It also seems that Moira had heard of me. I expect it was nothing good, but I’ll take all the fame I can get.

Off the Page 2017

If there is one thing that I have against Stirling’s Off the Page libraries book festival, it’s that it’s so hard to find the information I want online. I follow links to pages that aren’t the right ones, and then I swear a bit. Luckily the Resident IT Consultant brought home the printed programme for me, so I have finally been able to catch up with what will be on.

And things are on, so that’s good. Some of them not terribly convenient, at the further away libraries, which just proves what a large catchment area it is for Stirling. But there is good stuff.

Teri Terry is back (I mean, will be back, as this is in early May), but only for a school event. I’m guessing they like her there.

Alex Scarrow is coming, as is Ross Collins and Chae Strathie, whereas Craig Robertson is already here, being local. James Oswald is semi-local.

The names above are the ones I’ve highlighted for my personal interest, but there are many more. The Grandmother’s pal Crawford Logan is appearing at the Smith Art Gallery and Museum, for instance.

My track record for attendance isn’t terribly good, I must admit. I’ll have to see what calamities will prevent me from seeking these various libraries out next month. I hope none.