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This issue’s cover is from J K Rowling's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third book in what is already a classic new series. The first two titles were Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Thanks to Bloomsbury Children’s Books for their help. Cover image based on original artwork by Cliff Wright
An impressive cover starkly captures the strains of Ashley Ward’s life. Still at school, she is the sole carer of her bedridden mother and her release comes from night-time graffiti raids on high and dangerous walls. Her latest problem is to appease the neighbourhood gang leader, Eddie Beale, in order to enlist his help in identifying the man who is stalking her.
Ashley is soon out of her depth, struggling not to be manipulated by Beale in his own vendetta against the local shopkeeper, who has refused to pay him protection money.
As always, Cross delights with her deft interweaving of sub-plots and creation of a wide variety of convincing characters. However, it is her handling of narrative tension which elevates this novel to the first division.