SOMETIMES, COMPLETELY OUTSIDE OF THE control of the author, books take on a particular relevance. This has lately happened to children’s writer Kieran Larwood. Writing the latest volume of his Five Realms sequence, Uki And The Swamp Spirit, he decided on a plot that would see his hero, the intrepid if rather naive young Uki, on the hunt for an escaped spirit called Charice – an idea partly inspired by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

“She’s the spirit of disease,” Larwood says, was due to be published in the summer but was delayed until early 2021 because of the pandemic.

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