Phoenix by S.F. Said, illustrated by Dave McKean

Some books are harder to review than others; they need time to sink in, to settle, to allow all the thoughts to clarify themselves in my mind. This was one of those, and I really hope that after a second read, my review does Phoenix justice. It is one of the best books that I have ever had the pleasure of escaping into.


Lucky has no idea what is happening to him when he hears the tinkling of bells, and wakes to find his sheets in ashes around him. He can sense his mum’s fear though, and her desperation to flee. From what, he has no idea. As they try to escape Phoenix, the space port goes into lock down, and they must find another way off the planet. But the only other way is with Aliens, the sworn enemy, the race his father left to fight years ago and has never returned. With everything Lucky knows unraveling, he finds himself racing through the stars, with the enemy, to find his father and the truth about himself. But will he find the answers in time, before the war destroys them all?

Sublime storytelling with soul! The words sing off the page in the same way the stars call to Lucky in this action packed adventure to save the universe. Dave McKean’s atmospheric illustrations capture the intensity and emotion throughout bringing an extra depth to S.F. Said’s lyrical tale.

Phoenix mixes sci-fi with social commentary effortlessly, in a story that is heartfelt, captivating and desperately needed in today’s world. Children need stories that will help them to build empathy and understanding for others, to fire their imagination that the way things are doesn’t need to be the way things will always be, that we should be breaking walls down and not building them, and this is that story.  If our children take the messages in Phoenix to heart, and act on them, they will be able to imagine a friendlier, kinder future, and maybe, this book will go a little way to changing the world, because if we want to change the world, first we have to imagine it’s possible.


Every child should read this book, preferably with their adults.


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