Selected Book Review Extracts :

Satin(illustrated by Lorena Carrington)

Inspired by the satin bowerbird, Sophie Masson’s mesmerising fable is infused with melancholy. Sibilant alliteration snakes across the pages as Satin silently seeks a life without loneliness. Children aged four and older will empathise with Satin’s longing for love and emerge from the story with a steadfast belief in the power of sharing to strengthen connection.

Exuding sapphire and shadow, Lorena Carrington’s illustrations serve as a moody backdrop to Sophie’s wistful words. Satin is shown in silhouette, which heightens the heartache of his solitude. Only when the protagonist begins to bestow his blue upon others does Lorena lighten the ambience with pinks, yellows, and greens – it is the dawn of a new life for Satin. (Dannielle Viera, Buzz Words)

With all the atmosphere of a modern fairy tale or fable, Satin will entrance readers with its overwhelming sense of longing as Satin searches for things that are blue…..

The illustrations are wonderful, full of layers of different blues, on some pages in broken crockery, and marvellously pieced together on the endpapers. Kids will love collecting their own pieces of blue to see how they can be fitted together and try mosaics for themselves. (Fran Knight, Read Plus)

This book is beyond breathtaking. An abundance of concepts that most probably every single person has dealt with or is dealing with can be seen, heard and felt within the deep meanings of the words and the incredible visual images that reflect those meanings. There are concepts of solidarity, loneliness, uniqueness, longing, accumulation of sadness, the importance of contribution and the beauty of the sweet human connection and more.  (Judy Rachwani, Sydney teacher-librarian)

Illustrator Lorena Carrington has used “photography and digital montage techniques to form richly layered images” in all shades of blues. The striking endpapers, full of shattered pieces, will bring memories of intricate porcelain from the past. This beautiful new picture book by Sophie Masson, will leave the reader enthralled by the words, the intent behind the story and the stunning images. A very special read. (Kathryn Beilby, Read Plus)

Satin, the latest collaboration from author Sophie Masson and illustrator Lorena Carrington, is exactly what I expected from the duo – EXQUISITE. Masson’s perfectly chosen words are cleverly infused with layer upon layer of meaning, as are Carrington’s melancholy and moody illustrations…

One to treasure, this book is perfect for reading together or solo, for pondering, for digging into those deeper layers, on and off the page. And it’s not just for children – adults will enjoy this atmospheric fable too. (Monique Mulligan, author)

Satin by Sophie Masson, illustrated by Lorena Carrington and published by MidnightSun publishing is highly intriguing, meaningful, sophisticated and a remarkably unique picture book for upper primary school students. It is imbued with layers of meaning, symbolism and glorious use of colour, mostly blue, with colour being introduced later in the story, together with silhouettes, to represent and contrast dark and light, representing happy and sad, as well as reflect the protagonist’s personal journey. (Reading Opens Doors)

This is a rich and layered picture book, ideal for multiple reads and close examination of the illustrative details. There are many interpretations of the story, like all good fairy tales, but one enjoyable take is a reframing around what it means to feel ‘blue’. There are also worthy lines of discussion around how we define what makes us happy, why we create art (to share or for its own sake?), and the ways in which one person’s trash is another one’s treasure. (Lara Cain Gray, Charming Language)

Magical Tales from French Camelot

Sophie’s retellings are lyrical and emotive, and as she explains in her rationale at the end of each tale, she chose the most powerful moments in each tale to retell, leaving off where she needed to, and at times, explaining the rest of the story and its context within the French canon as well as its relationship to the British stories. Doing this gave an extra layer to the book, and it is the same process Kate Forsyth uses for her Long Lost Fairytales collections as well. In giving readers a history of the tale and letting us know what they have done, Sophie, like Kate, invites us into her world and writing process…These stories bring part of the Arthurian legends and myth cycle to life for adult and young adult readers, and I loved reading them, loved feeling like I was part of the world that they came from, and loved the beautiful illustrations by Lorena, created with many different aspects digitally to tell the stories just as much as the words did. I find it hard to put her illustrations into words because I think they are the kind of illustrations you have to experience for yourself – they’re just that magical! (Ashleigh Meikle, The Book Muse, August 31, 2022)

Inside Story:

If you are thinking about writing and illustrating children’s books… or you are wanting to become involved in the publishing process… this is the book to read and devour! ‘Inside Story’ is a showcase of the richness and diversity of contemporary Australian children’s books, packed with tips, advice, illuminating quotes and anecdotes. Contributors includes writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, agents and reviewers from across Australia- an invaluable resource and reference book for aspiring writers, illustrators, editors and designers. This could inspire some brilliant careers in the world of children’s literature. (Paul Macdonald, The Children’s Bookshop)

Highly recommended. This engaging 2022 publication, Inside Story, is a celebration of contemporary children’s book writing in Australia. Written for aspiring writers and illustrators (or if the same person, referred to in the book as ‘authorstrator’), interested readers and the already established creative community, it covers a myriad of topics on all things children’s book related.  Throughout this wonderful reference book, contributions from authors such Australian Children’s Laureate 2020-2021 Ursula Dubosarsky giving her ‘three top tips for writing plays,’ and young non-fiction writer and illustrator Sami Bayly describing ‘how research influenced both her illustrations and her words’, ensure this book will provide something of interest for every reader.(Kathyrn Beliby, Read Plus, June 24 2022)

Four Up In Lights:
Award-winning author of over 70 books, Sophie Masson has clearly had a lot of fun creating these four endearing characters, putting them in all sorts of trouble and helping them find their way out with plenty of chuckles and adventure along the way.
Cheryl Orsini’s fun illustrations bring the characters to life and capture both the tension and celebration of the story as it unfolds.
Perfect for young readers, aged 5–8, Maxie, Flash, Fergie, and Lady once again demonstrate the importance of friendship and the joy of adventure. With a hot-wheeling pace, Four Up in Lights will keep readers engaged and wanting to read the story in one sitting. (Kellie Nissen, Buzz Words, August 26 2022)

Sydney under Attack:
2022 marks the 80th anniversary of these attacks – which makes novels like this poignant and important. They remind us that everyone was touched by the war in some way – whether on the home front, on the battle fields, or through knowing someone affected by events far from where they lived, such as Mrs Stein being unable to help her family escape persecution in Europe. Sophie Masson not only touches on how Nick and his family are affected, but how Jewish people are affected, how people who have family stuck in other theatres of war were affected, and how assumptions about someone based on appearance can change when you get to know the person and understand them, and find out that they’re just a normal person, not a spy at all.
It is a well-crafted novel, taking a real-life event, and putting fictional figures into what would have been a scary and uncertain time for many people. (Ashleigh Meikle, The Book Muse, March 2, 2022)

A Hundred Words for Butterfly (audio book):

Like a flavoursome, aromatic Basque soup, this immersive tale leaves you wanting more. In part, this is due to the dialogue. It sounds authentic – as though you were eavesdropping on a friend’s conversation. And it is brought to life by Sarah Kennedy’s exquisite narration. But the real charm of Masson’s story are her engaging, relatable characters. (Claudia Barnett on GooglePlay)

Sophie Masson’s A Hundred Words for Butterfly is a wonderful listen. The relationship and tension between twins Helen and Alex felt very real, and the gently unfurling relationship between Helen and Tony was refreshing and so lovely. And of course the wonderful descriptions of the towns and countryside – and food! – made me feel an intense longing for the Basque Country...(Lorena Carrington on Kobo)

Print edition:

A suspenseful yet gentle and beguiling account of the fractured journey taken by two Australian sisters, present day pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. Widely celebrated for her translations of French fairytales, Sophie Masson here immerses her readers in the realities as well as the wonders of the ancient pilgrim way. (Carmel Bird)

In theory, the 800km Camino Frances might be clearly mapped out, but Sophie Masson artfully delivers some unexpected, and compelling, twists and turns. (Nick Earls)

Sophie Masson’s A Hundred Words for Butterfly is an uplifting tale of unintended consequences–of the way enlightenment can arrive in the most unlikely circumstances and from directions we don’t anticipate. A story as luminous and graceful as the butterflies that Masson so skilfully conjures. (Wendy James)

Four All At Sea:

Illustrated short chapters, a fast-moving storyline and trim size, with themes of friendship and team spirit, this second book about the adventures of the talking cars will delight early readers and kids that find longer books overwhelming.  (Anastasia Gonis on Kids Book Review)

It’s far from smooth sailing for Flash, Lady, Fergie and Maxie as the four ‘wheelie’ good friends find themselves in all sorts of bother in their second adventure together….Bags of fun, mayhem and close scrapes are in store in this fast-moving and delightful early chapter book that will be a hit with children who love vehicles and adventures….The exciting storyline and fabulous illustrations will keep young children hooked and with seven short chapters it is the perfect book to read over the course of a week. (Matt Wilson in A Word About Books)

With themes of friendship, resilience, and teamwork, a fast-paced story, and fabulously expressive illustrations, young readers will delight in the adventures of these talking vehicle friends. (Lisa Hoad on Reading Time)

The Ghost Squad:

This is a dynamic and exciting thriller with smart, relatable characters, similar to Sean Williams’s ‘Twinmaker’ series. It’s intense, but without profanity and virtually no violence. Though the death/afterlife aspects of the story are important, its core is about trust, loyalty and the courage to do what is right—even at a personal cost. Although it’s not quite as dark, The Ghost Squad should appeal to fans of Stranger Things and readers of John Marsden’s ‘Tomorrow’ books. (Advance review by Stefen Bazulaitis in Books+Publishing, Dec 9 2020)

Filled with secrecy and cover-ups, and with characters who have  varying degrees of trustworthiness throughout the novel, to the point where you don’t know who you can trust other than Polly, Kel and Swan. These relatable characters who are human and flawed drive the narrative, and invite us into their world. It is up to Polly and Swan to find out how to prevent the clandestine factions from controlling people more than they should, and how they go about it and returning to their lives as best they can is told with great gusto and flair, as their world starts to change forever. A great young adult read for teens aged 14 and over. (from review by Ashleigh Meikle in The Book Muse, Feb 8 2021).

This book was full of twists and turns, conspiracies, relationships, secrets, danger and action. I really couldn’t foretell anything that was going to happen and it wasn’t always clear who to trust or who to believe. There were plenty of people and factions to be wary of along the way and there were some unexpected allies too. I recommend this if you are looking for something engaging and different. (from review by Claire Holderness in Claire’s Reads and Reviews, Feb 8, 2021)

French Fairy Tales:
In a seductive combination of translation and personal retelling, Sophie Masson presents five fairy tales, which are dramatically illustrated by Lorena Carrington. Children will delight in the publication and adults will be enthralled by the familiar and unfamiliar narratives, startling images, historical notes, and the personal comments. The whole book comes from deep within the hearts of both creators. Much of Masson’s life was spent in France and hr sensibility and imagination are steeped in French culture and literature. Readers can perhaps imagine the joy involved in her work on this book. Carrington has developed a photographic technique of illustration that is perfect for the strangeness and enchantment of the tales. (Carmel Bird in The Weekend Australian Review, January 9, 2021)

Four on the Run:

This is a perfect read aloud for Junior Primary students as it is short and will appeal to children who could easily imagine that vehicles may be able to talk. Those younger readers who are progressing to independently reading novels will find the larger text and repetition of key words an asset to reading fluently. The clever illustrations by Cheryl Orsini provide extra interest and support to the reader. (Kathyrn Beilby, Read Plus, Sept 24 2020)

Cheryl Orsini’s delicate pen illustrations depict the cars in their prime and through their challenges. The dialogue between the cars is humorous and entertaining. This is a perfect chapter book for younger readers. (Anastasia Gonis, Kids’ Book Review, Oct 21 2020)

This is a charming story about four friends on an adventure to find a safe place to live. Their future looks much brighter by the end of the tale. Masson’s solution to their problem is both satisfying and exciting. Orsini’s artwork is fun, and as it’s all black and white with plenty of space, it could be even be used for colouring-in. (Wendy Noble, Good Reading Magazine, March 2021).

Desperate times call for desperate measures and these four plucky and spirited wheeled friends are determined to do whatever needs to be done…..Sophie Masson’s funny, charming and original adventure story about four friends who just happen to have wheels is a great early chapter book….The story races through its seven chapters and features black and white illustrations from Cheryl Orsini. With lots of excitement, a little bit of peril and bags of friendship and heart, Four on the Run will be a hit with vehicle loving children. (Matt Wilson, in A Word About Books, November 2021)

The Snowman’s Wish
With The Snowman’s Wish, Sophie Masson and Ronak Taher have crafted a soft tale about the passage of time and the beauty in the world. Mr Snowman, a kindly soul existing happily in an ever-shifting natural environment, welcomes everything around him. In this (slightly Eurocentric-looking) landscape, while children swirl and play around him, Mr Snowman radiates joy, celebrating his surroundings in a chronicle of sensory experience: the colours of the night; the feel of the wind, ‘soft as a whisper’; the smell of nectar and warm earth. Inevitably, of course, spring comes and the snowman, in a quiet depiction of the impermanence of everything, melts away. Reassuringly though, a remarkable flower grows in his place, and the children recognise it as the essence of their dear snowman. Taher’s illustrations—watercolour in texture, with shapes reminiscent of collage—are an ideal complement to Masson’s careful story of enjoying what is around us and knowing that things will always change. This is a lovely book for young readers aged 3–7 and can be read either at narrative face value or as a way of discussing both the senses and the notion of death. (Anica Boulanger-Mashberg, Books+Publishing, May 13 2020)

On My Way
On My Way tells one little boy’s extraordinary story as he relates it, using richly imaginative, yet simple verse, to his amused mother. As the child recounts these fantastical sights, his mother listens whilst busily tending to their vegetable garden and assures him that these visions are nothing out of the ordinary. The entertaining tale comes to an end with a fabulous little twist, that certainly challenges the possible assumptions made by any adult readers whilst sharing this picture book. Young readers, no doubt, will pick up on the visual clues in Simon Howe’s exceptional illustrations. His full-spread woodland illustrations are steeped in the kind of magical mythology young readers will adore, with a troll, a dragon, a witch, and a ghost all making an appearance alongside the whimsical animals and beautifully painted nature scenes. Each colourful illustration is bathed in a richly organic, olive-green light, as if the story is unfolding beneath a dense forest canopy, deep within a woodland grove where faery folk might dwell.
On My Way will delight young readers (three years and above). It is a perfect choice for a magical bedtime story whilst its basic rhyming pattern, rich visual language, and themes of outdoor explorations in nature make this a great title to share in an early-years setting. (Reading Time, June 2019)

This twist at the end turns the telling upside down, and all readers will want the story read again, or turn to the first page to read for themselves, to see how the twist is revealed through the story. Sumptuous digital illustrations will see readers looking more closely at what is included on each page, encouraging the eyes to range over the pages as they read, while the text encourages prediction and reading along with the adult as the story is read out loud. (ReadPlus, July 2019)

A short, charming picture book for the very early childhood years, On my Way encourages children to enjoy rhythm and rhyme and to use scale when interpreting images. (Magpies Magazine, May 2019)
War and Resistance

Highly recommended for readers aged 13+…Sophie Masson has created a wonderful story weaving the circumstances of the young girl, Sasha and her family, with the German boy, Dieter, at a time when the world was about to explode again into war……Bravery, spies, lies and the Resistance movement are all entwined in this interesting and compelling human story in a time of war. (Read Plus, April 16, 2019)

A fantastic middle grade novel with themes of family, friendship and trust in a war time setting (Lamont Books)

In this book by an exceptional author, I was thrilled to meet the familiar characters from Australia’s Great War 1914 only now they were grownups with their children. The main character of the story set in WWII, Sasha seems to inherit the best traits from her parents for which I loved them—bravery and readiness to sacrifice their lives for a good cause.The author introduces us also to a person with the opposite upbringing and ideas—a youth, Dieter who goes a long and painful way to find his bearings in the confusion of the Nazi propaganda and war. It is with these two protagonists Sophie Masson weaves a suspenseful and compelling tale about how war makes people take sides and find the courage to resist the then seemingly unbreakable evil power.
I was fully involved in the lives of the characters, and I was especially pleased with the satisfying ending of the story and the lessons it carried. Packed with factual information, this is historical fiction at its finest. With its great writing style and accurate picture of that dramatic period in history, it’s a must read for the younger generation of today. Like other books of this author, I loved this one and highly recommend it to fans of historical fiction and WWII in particular.
(Marina Osipova, historical fiction author, review on Goodreads and Amazon)

Black Wings
Black Wings is an engrossing account of a little known aspect of the French Revolution, the uprising in the Vendee which saw peasants and priests and artisans and aristocrats fighting together against the terror of the new republic. Bursting with drama, tension and surprise, ‘Black Wings’ vividly brings to life the turmoil of the times through the conflicting lives and loves of four young people whose lives are forever changed by war and insurrection.(Kate Forsyth)

I loved the way Sophie Masson entered so fully into the lives of her protagonists caught up in one of the least known aspects of the French Revolution, the Vendee uprising and subsequent genocide. From an intimate knowledge of the French countryside and culture and from painstaking research over many years, Sophie takes us into a world where family and national loyalties are put under immense strain. where the old order is falling apart and the new order turns from exhilarating to terrifying in an instant. For anyone who has only a vague, school textbook knowledge of the French Revolution, this novel will plunge you into the thick of the action while always remaining completely focussed on the human consequences of these great historical events. Highly recommended! ( reader review)

See Monkey:
This story captures the essence of toddlerhood. From the moment eyes open antics ensue with toddler and his favourite toy Monkey playing, eating, dancing, and mischief making their way throughout the day. All before heading back to the comfort of bed before beginning their adventures together again tomorrow.
I can definitely relate to the chaos of toddler and Monkey’s day. Having boys of my own I understand the pandemonium which surrounds their days as they investigate, play, learn and explore their world.
The illustrations are bright and representative of childhood; whether that is the fun and adventures of the children, or the busy and sometimes chaotic perspective of the parents, siblings and neighbours. (Reading Time, August 9, 2018)

​Sophie Masson brilliantly targets the toddler market with her short, sharp sentences and witty ‘monkey tricks’ – absolutely reflective of the typical cheeky toddler / monkey behaviours. Kathy Creamer befittingly brings her characters to life with superb colour, high action and the liveliest of expressions.
See Monkey is a spirited blend of childhood freedom, pushing the boundaries and simply having some imaginative fun, with the gentlest of guidance and restraint to acknowledge the consequences of boisterous actions. Plenty of excitement and laughter for children from age two. (Just Write for Kids, July 2018)

What a day! Follow Toddler and his favourite toy through their busy day and all the fun adventures and mischief they get up to. Parents with toddlers will relate to some of these amusing situations of these energetic adventures and after-fun clean-ups.
See Monkey is a children’s picture book for children of ages 3 – 7 years. The themes are universal, and it is a good read for families with babies and young children. The lively and colourful illustrations will capture the minds of a young audience. (Buzz Words, July 2018)

Being a boy’s favourite toy is dangerous, exciting work. From the moment the boy opens his eyes, Monkey is jumping, diving(into dad’s breakfast) dancing(and swinging on the clothesline(after a bath)….At the end of the day, the two exhausted friends cuddle up in bed. Playful and fun illustrations capture the special bond between Monkey and his boy. Ages 2-6.  4 stars (Funday, Sunday Telegraph, August 12 2018).

Building Site Zoo:
Each machine and animal are represented in rhyming stanzas, encouraging children to predict the rhyming word at the end of each doublet, and learning the line to repeat with the reader. Pleasing bright illustrations will attract the younger readers and the whole encourages a creative and imaginative look at a building site. ​(Read Plus, November 1, 2017)

Building Site Zoo encourages children to look at an object and then imagine what else it looks like. In this case, vehicles that help on a building site. A bull’s charge is compared to a bulldozer, a kangaroo’s bouncing up and down to a pneumatic drill (jackhammer), a hippo’s round stomach to a concrete mixer and so on. The end line encourages children to liken objects to animals on their walk to kindy or school, too. Children 4-6 years old will enjoy the story and teachers could also use with middle school children to develop language and imagination. For example, could build on children’s imagination of objects looking like animals and use it in a haiku, or to encourage children to use similes and metaphors in their fictional stories. (Children’s Books, NZ)

Two Rainbows:
Two Rainbows is an exploration of colour that works by juxtaposing how it appears in the city and then the country. A little girl finds highlights of colour in an often-grey city, whereas her farm and the wide expanses of countryside explode with luscious hues. This is a really lovely introduction to colour and also the differences of cities to rural environs. It invites children to explore both worlds with uncluttered and enticing pictures and text. Highly recommended for ages 2–5​. (Readings, July 2017)

Two Rainbows is a beautiful book showcasing a clever comparison of colours in the city and in the country. 
The pages are organised into paired double spreads. Each colour is shown as a spot of bright in an otherwise grey city scene with the alternating page celebrating the same colour in a simple monochromatic farm landscape. For example, yellow is a danger barrier in the grey city, while yellow is ducklings in a sun drenched, wheat field on the farm.
The narrator uses past tense for the farm scenes and present tense for the city, suggesting she has moved from the farm to the city and is fondly remembering the beauty of her country life while also finding small hints of colour in her new city life….This book would make a great springboard into colour exploration by inspiring young children to look for and identify colours in their environment. While older children could experiment with tints and shades of colours, creating their own monochromatic artworks. I found this book to be simply lovely.  It is calming, inspiring and just delightful.  ​(Kids Book Review, August 23, 2017)

Colour and rainbows are both recurring themes in children’s picture books. Luckily for us, Sophie Masson and Michael McMahon have found a way to explore these themes in a brilliantly simple and charming way. Colour is explored in both a city and a farm context, through the eyes of a girl who has moved to the city from the farm. This move means she’s experiencing the city with melancholy at first, but soon with a growing appreciation of the similarities between the places. The writing is clear and poetic, such as:
“On the farm, indigo was as velvet as a moth, and the star-spangled night sky.”
This kind of writing has a simple enough structure for children to understand and imitate, but beautiful enough that they will be inspired and moved. McMahon’s illustrations are filled with rich colours, clean lines and engaging detail. (Reading Time, October 18, 2017)

Spare, poetic text depicts the contrasts and connections between a young protagonist’s life in the country and in the city.
The young narrator, with a blank face, a black pageboy, and skin color that changes hue from spread to spread, spies a rainbow from the window of a house in the city. Recently moved from the country, the child misses the pastoral expanse that’s been left behind. Each color of the rainbow represents bright memories that contrast with the noisy, bustling, gray city: a red mailbox next to a laundromat vs. a shiny red tractor in a field; a tiny discarded orange peel vs. orange twine around fluffy hay bales at sunset; a torn green poster vs. vast green fields after a rain. But then the clouds at the beginning of the book return as violet storm clouds—the same clouds that lowered over the farm. Two rainbows symbolize two lives—each with its own spectrum of colors. Digital illustrations contrast these two environments effectively, juxtaposing tall, monochrome buildings that crowd out the gray sky against small elements of farm life that sit at the bottom of the spreads with the rest of the pages devoted to the vibrant, colorful sky. Sharp-eyed readers will notice other tiny instances of color in the city spreads.
A lovely city-country story that celebrates finding your place, and your color, in the world around you. (Kirkus Reviews, USA, March 2018)

Once Upon An ABC

Stunning in every way, this intelligent and superbly designed book of verse reflects the creators’ abilities. It stands apart from all other alphabet books you may have seen. Each letter represents a folk tale or fairytale from different parts of the world. This is an area in which Sophie Masson excels, and this gift of knowledge will encourage children to seek out and learn about the characters, their names, stories and origins. The exceptional layout on quality paper adds to the overall beauty. Christopher Nielson’s immersion in the text produces a refined combination of colour and expression. (Kids Book Review, August 27, 2017)

Such a wonderful concept and a brilliant way to celebrate traditional stories, fairy tales and folklore. The illustrations are stylish and suit the theme. Each letter rhyme is very smart indeed. In the middle primary school classroom, this book could be used as a model for children to create their own rhyme and idea around one letter of their choice. A joyous way to finish a unit on this very important topic. May the wonder of these timeless stories always be accessible to children of all ages. (Beth, Goodreads, June 2017)

The text rhymes with great cleverness and there isn’t a child who won’t enjoy  speaking it aloud with its parents and who will soon have it entirely by heart. The pictures are beautiful: strong and modern and printed in unusually subtle shades of every colour.  It’s a winner, this book and I do hope many reception teachers as well as parents will try and get hold of it. (Adele Geras, Awfully Big Adventure blog)

Oblique references to folk and fairy tale characters carry readers through the alphabet in this sprightly rhyming picture book…Textured with scratches and speckles and given a muted primary color scheme, Nielsen’s mixed-media images have a sturdy, posterlike presence…a clever, well-constructed collection of some beloved literary figures and types.(Publishers Weekly, US, July 24 2017)

Sophie Masson’s Once Upon an ABC is a stunning ode to folk and fairytales. For every letter of the alphabet is a character from stories past, ranging from the highly recognisable to the more obscure….Told in an engaging rhyme, this is an ABC with a difference – a collectible homage to legendary tales. Nielsen’s illustrations pop with primary colours and have a timeless, retro style. The endpapers are a typography-lovers’ delight. (Buzz Words, June 24)

Jack of Spades

​This thrilling book is just right for curling up on the lounge to read. It has so many twists, turns and unexpected surprises that it’s hard to keep up. It kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire story. I highly recommend that you put it on your next book list! (Four and a half starred review, Good Reading magazine, June 2017)
An entertaining spy story with a determined heroine at its centre…This is an interesting period of history and Sophie Masson has done her research well. (Magpies magazine, March 2017)
Rosalind Duke is just the kind of plucky heroine I love at the centre of my historical fiction. She’s happy to step outside the social norms of her time and she keeps a cool head about her in thrilling circumstances. And there are plenty to be found in this fast-paced adventure.
Sophie Masson is a champion at weaving intrigue and adventure with strong, memorable characters and a touch of romance. (Kids’ Book Review, April 19, 2017)

Hunter’s Moon(RHA 2015)
Hunter’s Moon has all the appeal of romance, action, magic and a fabulous frock or two which has been brilliantly constructed to not overwhelm or confuse readers in the early teens. (Jacquelyn Muller, Buzz Words July 28 2015)

Masson keeps the excitement going until the end. Teenage readers will love the romance. (Stella Lees, Reading Time, May 29, 2015)

In this lunarscape of disguise, dreams, revenge, curses and mirrors, we remember a lesson from Shakespeare: that things are not always what they seem. Surprises ride on the narrative device of giving readers a head-start in dramatic irony. We suspect that something is wrong, ahead of the protagonist, for whom romance weaves its own self-deception. (Louisa John-Krol, Victorian Fairy Tale Ring, July 2015)

Trinity: The Koldun Code(Momentum 2014)

The Koldun Code has all the elements of the very best romantic thrillers : an utterly gripping, suspenseful plot that’s complex without being too complicated, a highly atmospheric setting, and a cast of memorable characters – a hero and heroine who you come to care about deeply, villains who surprise. What makes this novel even more extraordinary is the Russian setting and the clever blend of history, legend and mythology. And then there are the hints of the supernatural that give the narrative a darker edge – and kept this reader’s heart pounding most pleasurably!

One of the things I really admire about The Koldun Code is that – as with all of Masson’s writing – it’s accessible and enjoyable to all: teenagers and adults of every age will love this book. I can think of only a few writers who have this knack – the great Mary Stewart, Tolkien, and our own wonderful Ruth Park – but Masson has it in spades. Bring on Trinity Part Two! (Wendy James, on Amazon)

This new page-turner from well-known Australian writer, Sophie Masson, is a departure from her recent novels for children and teenagers which are usually set in France and/or Australia. This is her first novel for adults in quite a while, and it is set in Russia in the present, a country caught in the grip of its painful transition from communism to capitalism, bringing greed, ambition, corruption, and ruthless battles for power in its wake. But this story also invokes the Russia of the past, with its turbulent history and its rich tradition of magic and fantasy, with all of these elements combined in this explosive new mystery / romance from a master story-teller.
A combination of fantasy, magic, romance and crime, this mystery will keep you guessing until the entirely unexpected conclusion – of this part of the story at least!  (Felicity Pulman, on GoodReads)

The Crystal Heart(Random House Australia 2014) Notable Book, Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards, 2015, Shortlisted for Davitt Awards, 2015. 
What a great book. From the first page I was totally engrossed. I loved the two main characters and their world. I was sorry when the book finished and easily could have read on for another couple of hundred pages. (Jody, Goodreads)

This is a very lovely story with appealing protagonists. Like all the best fairy tales, there is a great love story, and great hardship for the lovers…Middle to upper secondary students will enjoy this book, and there is enough fighting and adventuring to engage boys as well as girls. Recommended for high school and public libraries. (Rebecca Kemble, Magpies magazine, Sept 2014)
1914(in Australia’s Great War series, published by Scholastic 2014 ):
Sophie Masson’s version of 1914 takes up the story of two brothers, Louis (16) and Thomas (19) who happen to be living with their diplomat-career parents in Vienna at the time of the assassination of the heir to the Austrian throne.  Both brothers are smart, interested in the world, and ambitious to write.  They are ideal young characters to witness these events and help the reader make sense of them as both history and as part of the maelstrom of contemporary events around the boys.  It is a challenge to explain simply and dramatically to young readers why such a major war erupted, and Masson does a mighty good job of it.  The novel follows the first year of the war as Germany won many battles against the general expectation that they would quickly succumb to the forces of the Entente Allies.  Instead, by the end of 1914 both sides had entrenched themselves behind barbed wire, artillery and machine guns.  While Louis takes up a role as a reporter, Thomas enlists as a soldier.  This gives the novel an opportunity to allow us to see a range of battles, the deteriorating situation, and sometimes to glimpse how the war might be experienced from the other side.  Sophie Masson does not fail to make it clear to the reader the effects of young lives lost, of injuries that maimed people for life, and of the emergence of trench warfare.  Interestingly, we learn of the intricacies of Allied attempts (especially British) to control the news that came from the front line.  Like all wars, this one was fought hard across the territory of propaganda as much as it was fought in the mud and trenches.  This is a superb novel, managing to be sensitive and exciting as a narrative, while also being respectful of the larger history it is touching upon. (Kevin Brophy, Reading Time online, August 2014)

An in-depth and human depiction of the friendships that are affected by the atrocities of war. An exceptional read for Years 7 and up. This book also includes some historical notes to explain the chronological order of the events that took place. (Donna Clark, Bug in a Book)

Sophie Masson has written a fascinating account of that first year of war, when the deaths of Ferdinand and Sophie triggered an event so shocking, it was known as ‘The Great War.’ What follows as seen through the eyes of Louis will have readers from upper primary to middle secondary glued to the pages as Masson includes a huge amount of detail so carefully entwined that it is only at the end the reader realises how much they have absorbed. ..This is a thrilling read. (Fran Knight, Magpies magazine, Sept 2014)

Emilio (Allen and Unwin, 2014)
Emilio is a dark and suspenseful novel..Sophie Masson’s writing is engaging as always; the drama is intense and the suspense is sustained right through to the end. The characters are well-drawn and believable..Emilio deals with a heavy topic in a way that is sensitive and serious. (Jane Smith, Magpies magazine, July 2014)

Scarlet in the Snow is a beautiful, engrossing fantasy for teen and adult readers. Readers will recognise this as a retelling of the fairy tale most commonly called Beauty and the Beast, but should not expect that this means they will know what happens, as Masson has truly made the story her own, blending fantasy and intrigue in a wonderful tale of adventure and romance.
The exquisite cover is a good indication of the quality of the take within. (Sally Murphy, Aussie Reviews, Sept 9, 2013)

In Scarlet in the Snow, Sophie Masson presents a new styling of the old Beauty and the Beast traditional tale (La Belle et la Bête), first published in 1740 and gives it a new and engaging twist that will be sure to captivate the  girls looking for something with  rather more substance than the general pulp fiction in the romance genre.
Carefully employing many of the original elements of the story – a once rich family reduced to poverty,  the enchanted forest, a mysterious mansion occupied by an apparently invisible owner, tables laden with magical food, and most importantly a beautiful rose plucked innocently without any malice – Masson weaves a complex but beautiful rendering of the story breathing real life into the characters and their circumstances.
Tragedy, revenge, intrigue and love triumphant are crafted into an unravelling of the story in which Masson has combined selected motifs of the many hundreds of versions of the original tale.
Taking her setting from Russia and drawing most heavily on the version retold in that country, the author has created highly believable and very human characters in Natasha, Ivan and even Old Bony.  There is a definite tone of steampunk in the later settings/incidents in the book which this reader found highly engaging.
With teaching notes available from the publisher this would make a terrific book for lower secondary students engaged in shared reading or book groups. (Sue Warren, Qld Teacher-Librarian networks)

Inspired by the story of Beauty and the Beast, Sophie Masson’s magnificent new novel Scarlet in the Snow is a magical, emotive tale of love, enchantment, tragedy and sacrifice, and betrayal. She has created an outstanding heroine in Natasha who leads a cast of spellbinding characters in an equally spellbinding story. It’s a mystery adventure involving hearts as cold as the frozen environment in which the story is set, and simultaneously, a romantic tale as warm as the emotion that compels the rational Natasha to embark on a hero’s journey. Heroism, strength of character, and determination, are the weapons she carries with her; the arrows that will point to answers with the power to release her love from an eternal diabolic enslavement. Scarlet in the Snow is a multi-layered novel with its shape-shifting, ancient witches and spells, challenges and resolutions. It has every element a reader looks for in a well-crafted and perfectly presented novel of great imagination. Brilliantly told in poetic prose, this novel won’t be put down till the last word is read. ( Anastasia Gonis, Freelance Writer, Reviewer and Interviewer.)

The accompanying blurb relates that this story has been ‘inspired by two beautiful Russian fairytales – The Scarlet Flower (the Russian version of Beauty and the Beast) and Fenist the Falcon’ and while it starts with the traditional themes that I was very familiar with, by the end of the tale, I was astounded about where the story led. It is beautifully told in rich, complex language and lovers of the fairy tale retold genre, as I am, will happily read the story of Natasha and her Beast.
Natasha is a combination of an intelligent, strong personality, overlaid with a goodness that I sometimes found a little difficult to take. However she is an intrepid adventurer, seeking the truth about the Beast, researching old newspapers and travelling to distant lands hoping for an answer that will break the spell that enchants the Beast. Natasha overcame many obstacles to true love, some of which were strange and quite compelling.
Masson has been able to bring alive aspects of the fairy tale setting and her descriptions of Natasha’s stay with the witch of the forest was really vivid and memorable as were the sleigh rides and the Beast’s mansion.
This is an enjoyable addition to a growing genre of retellings of fairy tales.
Pat Pledger,

I just loved this retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, told with flair, dash, and panache, by one of my favourite Australian women writers (yay! Another AWW2013!) Sophie Masson has really found her niche with these books (‘Scarlet in the Snow’ is set in the same alternative-world Prague as Sophie’s previous novel, ‘Moonlight & Ashes’, which was one of my BEST BOOKS READ IN 2012.) This is YA fantasy at its best – filled with magic, adventure and just a touch of romance. Loved it! (Kate Forsyth)

Moonlight and Ashes

This part-historical novel, part fantasy and part-fairytale retelling (Moonlight and Ashes) is a strong display of the author’s talents, both in the writing and the characters she has created. Max and Selena are only two of the many characters that continually surprise. Threaded throughout is the familiar tale of Cinderella, but given that the characters of this retelling have so much free will and determination, it will come as no surprise that they have steered this novel to a different place entirely. With a rich historical backdrop, this book has plenty of contemporary relevance, particularly the role of strong women throughout–women who know and use their minds, who aren’t afraid to say no and who don’t mind getting their hands dirty. In Moonlight and Ashes, Sophie Masson has taken a tale that is familiar to us all, stripped it bare of its lace and frivolity and turned the skeleton into something strong, rich, and full of life. (Bec Kavanagh, Viewpoint magazine, Summer 2012 issue.)

The retelling of fairy tales is a favourite genre of mine and I found that this beautiful version of the old Cinderella tale was very difficult to put down. Selena is a strong heroine who doesn’t wait for a fairy godmother to wave her magic wand. Instead she uses her own magic and determination to find a dress for the ball where she meets the handsome Prince (whose actions are not as handsome as his face) and his friend Max. Through her skill and determination she sets out to rescue herself and her friends when they are thrown into the Mancer’s dungeons. She must use her magic and her intellect to help the kingdom and save the Emperor when an evil plot that a section of the Mancers, who control all magic in the kingdom, is uncovered. Masson’s vivid description of the Moon Sister magic and the idea of a hazel twig as a magical tool are quite compelling.
Young girls in particular will love the story of a young woman who is prepared to leave the man she loves in order to fulfil her destiny and who is always compassionate and caring for the people around her.
A compelling story with plot twists and a feisty heroine, Moonlight and ashes will appeal to readers who like adventure, romance and an action packed plot. (Pat Pledger, ReadPlus blog)

Moonlight and Ashes is a brilliant retelling of the Cinderella story, though it is as unexpected as it is beautiful. There is not a fairy godmother or a pumpkin in sight. Instead, Selena is a strong young woman who draws on her own resourcefulness, and the strength of her new friends, together with her newly discovered gifts, to grasp her destiny. There is magic in this book – it captivates and keeps the pages turning. (Sally Murphy, AussieReviews blog)

This fabulous tale, inspired by the Grimm fairytale Ashputtel, will capture young romantics’ hearts. Like Cinderella, Selena is treated as a scullery maid when her cruel stepmother takes charge of the household. But Selena has a dangerous secret. Like her mother, she is a “forbidden” moon sister, capable of powerful magic — if only she knew how to tap it. Werewolves, witches and princes provide ingredients for this fairytale, while a cunning heroine in Selena make this a great story for girls.
Verdict: spellbinding (Clare Kennedy, Herald-Sun, Melbourne July 28, on Moonlight and Ashes)

Fabulous, I loved it, couldn’t put it down. Feisty main character who does a lot more for herself than normal. Great interpretation of what magic actually is.(Sarah Cox Mayor, Goodreads, also on ABC radio, on Moonlight and Ashes)

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Moonlight and Ashes largely due to the fact that this novel was enriched by many convincing and believable characters. Masson was able to successfully develop these throughout her story and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring their personalities who were often shaped by past experiences. These believable characters convincingly held the magical and mystical plot together to make this book both intriguing and exciting. In particular I loved the way the main character Selena perfectly matured throughout the novel into the true epitome of Cinderella. I also admired her streak of extreme impulse and eagerness to escape the past and discover her role as a moon sister. At the end of the novel she was ultimately able to take charge of her own destiny and help other characters discover theirs along the way. (Emily Barker, Inside a Dog blog)

Ned Kelly’s Secret

Sophie Masson’s latest historical tale, Ned Kelly’s Secret, is a remarkable blend of fact and fiction: a tale which readily transports readers to the era of our history when the legends of bushrangers were born…The authentic descriptions of both the settings and historical figures are credible and engaging, while the dilemmas of truth and loyalty are thought-provoking. The appeal of the legend blended with adventure and mystery will engage Upper Primary and Lower Secondary readers and is a must-read companion to Masson’s The Hunt for Ned Kelly. (Allison Patterson, Magpies, July 2012 issue)

The author has created a fantastic character in Hugo Mars. He is keen to help his father’s research and is encouraged by Mr Mars to make up his own mind  about  situations and people rather than follow others. He also longs to strike out on  his own and does so occasionally, yet is reasonably cautious, not foolhardy.   Masson manages to make the reader see the unfolding drama through the eyes and perspective of Hugo. The scene where he meets Harry Power and is torn between admiration and dislike is particularly powerful in this respect. The writing is evocative. In the wonderfully tense bail-up scene, Hugo describes the kookaburra’s sound as the “long drawn-out cackle of a witch mocking our pitiful plight.” The bush, small country towns and the city of  Melbourne in 1875 are well drawn and full of life.It is well researched and holds the excitement, suspense and drama of a great bushranging tale. Ned Kelly is not painted as evil, nor particularly good, and  the openness of right and wrong works really well in this telling of Ned’s boyhood years.  This book would suit boys or girls from the age of twelve,  and I think boys in particular will connect with the brave and  adventurous Hugo  Mars.   This is a thoroughly enjoyable, exciting and informative story  about an era of Australian history. (Jenny Heslop, Buzz Words magazine, August 16 2012)

Life, Literature, Legends

Masson’s take on “what you know” is to write with emotional heart, while everything is processed through a bristling imagination, one in which mythology and the occult sprint alongside the modern masquerade of rationality. Masson’s presence is striking, her voice clear as a bell and the self-disclosures are rewarding if double-edged…This collection has more structure than most, carved as it is into three neat organising divisions of Life, Literature and Legends. Masson never strays too far from her upbringing, love of reading, experience as a writer and her deeply entrenched fascination with fantasy, giving the work a resonance and connectivity that is sustained even though these pieces were composed across a 15-year period. ..
Whether it is an ode to libraries, a critique of Andrei Makine’s Human Love, a “long literary mind-travel” in Russia where she spied”Chekhov’s doomed families sitting at shabby tables”, a defence of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, a cool swipe at behind-the-scenes shenanigans at writers festivals, a reflection on the fatherless heroes of the Arthurian legends or how aliens are the new angels, Masson’s thoughts are opinionated, wry, erudite, amusing, nostalgic and, yes, from time to time overly peppered with fantasy and flamboyant metaphor. They are nonetheless intriguing.
Masson thrives on “following her imaginative nose” and looking “beyond the obvious” and her gift is in making the ordinary gleam and the well worn glimmer.
Any complaints echoing down the years about the fusty, over-polemical, fussily ephemeral, hollow and self-aggrandising essay are washed away with the reading of this book.’ (Gillian Wills, The Weekend Australian, June 9, 2012)

The Boggle Hunters

Masson cleverly weaves traditional beliefs about these creatures(boggles) into the modern fascination with computer games, and the result is an absorbing mystery.’ (Good Reading, April 2012).

The Hunt for Ned Kelly
Author Sophie Masson turns from her more familiar worlds of fantasy to historical fiction with The Hunt for Ned Kelly. Her picture of life in the Australian bush is well-researched and she expertly captures the energy and chaos of the gigantic manhunt. Bookish Jamie and feisty Ellen are both strong, engaging and distinctive characters. A recommended read for upper primary and above, particularly those with an interest in history, storytelling and the power of myth.(Australian Bookseller and Publisher, December/January 2009-10)

This is a skilfully written book—a mixture of fact and fiction in which the reader becomes increasingly involved with the lives of Jamie, Ellen and Ned Kelly. A fascinating book.
(Reading Time, May 2010.)

Masson has created a moving and exciting story, and it is easy to get involved in the story of Jamie and Ellen and how their lives intersect with the notorious bushranger. The re-creation of the town of Beechworth during the 1870’s feels authentic, and both characters are likeable and resilient. (Viewpoint, Winter 2010.)
The Phar Lap Mystery
What’s good about the Phar Lap novel is that young readers aged 10-plus don’t necessarily have to be horsey fans to enjoy it; the book introduces the novice to various equine terms such as the role of bookmakers and includes interesting facts…Masson has used original newspaper articles and interviews as sources and kept the names of key figures, which give the novel an air of authenticity about it even though the whodunnit aspect is obviously fictional. Set during the Depression years, the novel reflects the straitened times well, and relationships between father and daughter and their circle of friends and family are also beautifully depicted.’ (Australian Bookseller and Publisher, September 2010.)

This is a delightful mix of adventure, mystery and historical fiction. Masson brings to life both the landscape of France and the era of the Great War. (Good Reading Magazine on My Father’s War, April 2011.)

Annie is a strong, resourceful character with a distinctive voice…This is a recommended read for those in upper primary and lower secondary wanting to understand something of the Anzac experience…’ (Australian Bookseller and Publisher on My Father’s War).

The Understudy’s Revenge

The Understudy’s Revenge is an exciting book of historical fiction for middle school readers. Millie Osborne is an errand girl for King’s company, the famous troupe of actors who, beset by tragedy and misfortune, have decided to put on a spectacular performance of Hamlet to announce their comeback. When Oliver Parry shows up to audition, Millie is intrigued by him and, driven by her desire to become a writer like the famous Charles Dickens, befriends him, hoping to find out more about his travels and mysterious life. But Oliver has many secrets, and there is more to his arrival than he lets on. Millie and her friend Seth suspect a devious plot, drawing parallels between Oliver’s appearance and the story of Hamlet, and set out to bring him to justice. The plot moves quickly, making this a great story for young readers new to the historical fiction genre. There is a touch of romance that connects the characters, but it is not the focus of the story, and is never sickening. The Understudy’s Revenge is a pacy, entertaining read that is perfect for girls who are bored or disinterested with fantasy, but who enjoy a richly imagined story that they can lose themselves in. (Australian Bookseller and Publisher, Jan/Feb 2011)

Snow, Fire, Sword
 Like all of Sophie Masson’s work, Snow, Fire, Sword, has a real storytelling intelligence directing it, and a true and vivid sense of what makes a fascinating narrative. And what I like especially is that it isn’t the usual fairytale setting but something quite original. (Philip Pullman)

Sophie Masson combines her unique gifts of marvelous storytelling, high drama, and poetic intensity(Lloyd Alexander on Snow, Fire, Sword)

Other reviews
The Secret Army is a striking new departure from one of Australia’s most original authors—a compelling, fantastical boy’s own adventure, a blend of X-Men and Indiana Jones, a graphic novel that works on many levels. As we have come to expect from Sophie Masson, it’s multi-layered, blending history, literature, fantasy and even sporting heroes(Anthony Horowitz on The Secret Army: Operation Loki)

Styled like an Agatha Christie story, The Case of the Diamond Shadow is a twisting-turning-twisting mystery, with plenty of subtle humour. Recommended for 12+ readers. (

There is a beauty and poetry about the style of this novel, In Hollow Lands, and it is, at the same time, wonderfully visual; I kept imagining an Arthur Rackham painting. The Forest of Broceliande, where the wizard Merlin is supposed to have been locked in a tree, is almost a character in its own right. The cover shows a brooding face with owl eyes and beak over dark waters — beautifully done, as long as young readers don’t mistake this for a horror novel. In Hollow Lands is highly recommended(January Magazine)

The Thomas Trew stories (this is the fifth) are always evocative and exciting, but this is one of the most thrilling – Thomas is in the greatest peril, and the suspense is maintained right to the end. The loyalty and love of Pinch and Patch are tested to the utmost, and Thomas has to reconnect with his mother’s gift of song. Sophie Masson’s version of the Flying Huntsman is magnificent. (Write Away, UK, on Thomas Trew and the Flying Huntsman)