The Traitor Game

Michael is an intense, clever fifteen-year-old, traumatised by a mysterious bullying incident at his previous school. Emotionally damaged and suspicious of everyone he meets, he finds safety in a fantasy world which he constructs with his best friend, Francis. But then he makes a terrible discovery, which throws everything he cares about into disarray.

And meanwhile, in the treacherous, dangerous world Michael and Francis have created, a young peasant boy is struggling to survive...

The Traitor Game is my first published novel. It won the 2009 Branford Boase Award.

'An extraordinary and truthful working-through of adolescent difficulties... A notable new writer has arrived....' - Nicolette Jones, Sunday Times

'A rich, eventful and elegant parable...Intelligent, innovative and absorbing...' - Mal Peet, Guardian

‘This is a wonderfully gripping novel for teenagers, which knits two worlds together so that they echo each other without covering the same ground. The two stories are wonderfully conceived, and show the value of imagination in helping to conquer inner demons and cope with the slings and arrows of the real world. Brain food that’s well worth feeding to your teenage boys – and stealing from them afterwards’ - Big Issue

The Traitor Game is a convincing, almost forensic, evocation of the experience of being bullied – and living with the fear that it will happen again’ - Time Out (Kids' Book of the Week)

‘A powerful, intense debut that interweaves the tale of introverted Michael’s friendship with Francis and the life-and-death struggles of his alter-ego, Argent, in the fantasy world they create. Echoes of events in the real world resonate through their fantasy kingdom of Evgard, so the tyranny of the school bully is paralleled in the brutality of the medieval tyrant. This is a tale of obsession, distrust, betrayal and dark secrets, exploring themes of sexual awakening, brutality and homophobia. The boundaries between real and make-believe blur as the narrative builds to a dangerous crescendo’ - Bookseller

If you've already read The Traitor Game, here (in true style, except that I have no commercial interest) are some other books you might like - some of them are books that influenced me when I was writing, some are books I discovered afterwards - but they're all books that I love! 

Play Nimrod For Him, by Jean Ure - a brilliant, powerful and intelligent book about two teenagers who retreat into a fantasy world...

Inventing Elliot, by Graham Gardner - if you're going to read one book about bullying, read this one. 

The Shell House, by Linda Newbery - a daring, heartbreaking novel with a narrative divided between the present and the First World War. 

I'm The King Of The Castle, by Susan Hill - a chilling, horrifying psychological thriller that blurs the boundaries between adult and young adult fiction.

 Assassin's Apprentice, by Robin Hobb - one of the best fantasy books I've read: it's vivid, original and utterly compelling. (Not sure why there's an elk on the cover, but there you go.)

Across The Nightingale Floor, by Lian Hearn - another brilliant fantasy novel, and completely different from any other I know! Set in a medieval, magical Japan, it's at once beautiful and violent, and combines a really gripping plot with lovely, elegant writing.