It’s hard to beat a really good thriller for sheer entertainment value, especially when there’s an element of the supernatural involved too, and Ali Sparkes’ Night Speakers series is up there with the best in the genre. For those who don’t know, the eponymous Night Speakers are three young people Elena, Matt and Tima, who have the ability to speak any language, and even to understand animals. As a result of this special power, the three have been involved in a series of high-stake adventures, involving a demonic underworld god, killer plants, interplanetary child kidnappers and earth-drilling grubs; indeed, they’ve saved the world on more than one occasion. In this book, number four in the series and the final episode, Sparkes creates their biggest challenge yet: devastating floods and natural disasters threaten as the Earth inexplicably starts to slow. She sets the book’s thrilling climax on the very, very top of the world’s tallest building (acrophobics look away now), the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
It’s not just the action scenes that make the books so satisfying though. Sparkes develops her characters really well over the course of their adventures, and they are credible, real-life kids for all the out-of-this-world settings. The threats they encounter may come from alien forces, but there’s a genuine sense too of the precariousness of our own position in the world and the damage caused by our habit of exploiting nature. Now of all times too, it’s worth celebrating a series that defines the ability to communicate a super-power. There’s no need to start with book one, Night Forever will work for those coming new to the series, but it’s definitely worth looking out books one, two and three too.