THE BLACK LOTUS by Kieran Fanning

Eoin Colfer is a pretty big deal in the children’s book world (Artemis Fowl, WARP etc) and so when Moontrug saw his comments on Kieran Fanning’s debut for 8+ years (‘A powerful new voice in children’s fiction. I loved this book’) she knew she had to do some investigating…


Ghost, Cormac and Kate are junior recruits of The Black Lotus, a training school for ninjas. But when the Moon Sword – a source of unimaginable power – is stolen by an evil Samurai Warrior, the three are forced to battle through sixteenth century Japan and present-day New York to stop him from destroying the city.

The book opens with Ghost’s recruit into The Black Lotus. Fanning conjures up both the smart apartments and frenetic favelas of Rio De Janeiro and they provide the perfect backdrop for a fast-paced opening scene. Ghost’s super-power is excitingly evoked and the arrival of a one-eyed man at the end of the chapter ensures the plot is full of intrigue. Moontrug particularly liked the way Ghost wasn’t a straight-up wonder kid – his past is full of secrets and sadness (‘a favela kid: tough, strong and full of secrets’) – and Fanning evokes his sense of loss with real heart. In fact, all of Fanning’s characters have depth and quirks and children will love the friendships that lie at the core of the story – they reminded Moontrug of the kids in Andy Mulligan’s novel, Trash. Recruited from an Ireland run by deadly Kyatapira, Cormac runs faster than any kid he encounters (faster than the bullies who are set on beating him up) – and is both a loyal friend to Ghost and a flirty side-kick to Kate. And Kate’s ability to talk to animals provides some top quality humour to the plot (along with Ghost who has learnt English phrases incorrectly from a guide book) – and she adds a fabulous dash of ‘girl power’ to the trio.

There are helicopters, BX-12 Kestrel planes, black orb portals, underground headquarters, ejecting capsules and glass bombs. But perhaps coolest of all are the shinobi shozoku – ninja suits made ‘from millions of tiny mirrored beads. Each bead is weighted and reacts to the earth’s gravitational pull. Regardless of the wearer’s position, the mirrored surface of each bead faces sideways or downwards, but never upwards. Therefore, the suit always reflects the environments around it, never the sky. It will camouflage you anywhere.’ Kids will love imagining which gadgets they’d use and they’ll also enjoy the memorable sayings scattered throughout the story: ‘sometimes the best place to hide is perched on your enemy’s eyelashes.’

Fanning transports the reader back to sixteenth-century Japan seemlessly and Moontrug loved the descriptions of ‘glowing paper lanterns’ that ‘bobbed on the evening breeze’ and skies stained ‘a grapefruit pink’ – an atmospheric setting for warriors and legendary Samurai swords. And the finale in New York is breathlessly exciting – while Cormac’s up on the top of a skyscraper, Kate is advancing on an elephant… The Black Lotus is a fantastic, energetic book – the adventure is huge and the friendships have heart – and Moontrug is excited to see what Fanning has in store for his readers next…


One thought on “THE BLACK LOTUS by Kieran Fanning

  1. Iona Mandal

    A must-read. Firstly, I liked the whole plan of the story and also the scientific touch given. The thing that really stood out to me was, the author used all the subjects we learn at school nowadays. Geography through the places they come from, Science through the ninja suits and English through the simple meaning of the words. I loved how Ghost, Cormac and Kate come from different countries all in totally different parts of the world, even in different hemispheres! It really shows that you can be friends with anyone, whatever differences you have between each other. I also liked the way that you, Moontrug, described the whole review and split it up into five solid paragraphs that made sense, were in order, and just gave great advise to any child that’s out there who is bored and lonely and needs books. I also liked the gadgets the author has put into his story, including those planes and the portals. I love everything about this book and the review you have written.


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