A BOOK by an Oxford author will be the next choice for the Oxford Mail Junior Book Club.

As part of the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign, which aims to foster a love of reading while improving literacy standards, we have teamed up with bookseller Waterstones to offer young readers a book each month at half price.

And for the first time since the club launched last October, the book is a local one.

The Demon’s Watch is the debut novel by city- based writer Conrad Mason, and is aimed at children aged nine to 12.

It is also published by David Fickling Books, an Oxford publishing company.

Mr Mason said: “Besides being an essential life skill, reading gives us access to a wealth of ideas and stories to challenge, comfort and entertain us. “It’s so important for adults to demonstrate the value of reading, so I think the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign is a hugely exciting initiative.”

Children’s bookseller Josh Clarke said: “There were a couple of reasons for picking this book. Firstly, it is a debut novel from a local author, and the imprint is actually David Fickling.

“Also, it is something a bit different to some of the other children’s fiction out there at the moment, especially with regards to fantasy.”

The book, while set in a fictional world, has a very real world theme, that of racial discrimination.

Based in the port of Fayt, characters of different races and species live happily together in a harmony that is threatened by a powerful group which wishes to destroy non-humans.

And the port setting, complete with tri-corner hats, makes for an unusual location to set a fantasy novel.

Mr Clarke said: “It’s also wonderfully gender neutral. The main character is a half-human, half-goblin boy, but there’s also a really strong, feisty female lead.”

The book was brought to Mr Clarke’s attention by the writer’s mother, and it is next on his pile of books to read.

He said: “I have barely started it but it has got a lot of potential to go somewhere. We might be on to something special here.”

Since its launch, the Oxford Mail Junior Book Club has proved hugely popular, with Waterstones having to order in extra copies.

Find the Oxford Mail Junior Book Club vocuher in today's Oxford Mail.