Dark Reads II

Dark Reads II is a series of eight novels, written specifically to interest teenagers with a very low reading ability. With a word count of no more than 600, these bite-sized books are perfect for those normally daunted by the prospect of reading. They are both stimulating in content and encouraging in that they allow readers to finish them in good time, rather than getting bogged down.
This set of Dark Reads presents a relatable and modern ‘way in’ to Shakespeare. Each title takes inspiration from a different play, providing a subtle familiarity with each of their concepts.

Features include:
★ Different topics that will appeal to all interests
★ Look and feel of a 'real' book
★ Dyslexia-friendly font and line spacing
★ Fantastic graphic novel style full-page illustrations
★ Alternate pages of text and illustrations to hold reader's interest and encourage the sense of achievement created from turning the page
★ Mature themes to appeal to teenagers
★ Facts and questions at the back to help the reader understand and contextualise the text

Blog Posts: 1–11 of 10
  1. Celebrating Shakespeare

    Posted on: Mar 15, 2016

    As 2016 sees the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, we are giving you the chance to win a set of Dark Reads II, a series which is influenced by his plays.

    All eight bite-sized titles have been purposely written for teenagers who are daunted by the thought of reading. Featuring superb two-tone graphic novel style illustrations, short sentences and simple language, these titles provide an accessible 'way in' to Shakespeare for reluctant and struggling readers.

    Read more about this series and individual titles in the blogs below.

    For your chance to win this brilliant set of books visit our competitions page and submit your details. Competition now closed.

  2. Love you to death

    Love you to death

    Posted on: Dec 23, 2015

    "Oh, beware, my lord, of jealousy!
    It is the green-eyed monster..."
    Othello, Act 3 Scene 3

    Gang leader Otis is dating super-smart Desire. Her love is the only thing keeping him in school.
    But Iggy, Otis's gang rival, wants him gone. And he knows just what to do.

    As Iggy weaves a web of lies and betrayal, it's soon clear that this story can only end in heartbreak.

    The tragic story of Otis is based on Shakespeare's Othello, with main characters named Otis (Othello), Desire (Desdemona) and Iggy (Iago). The story is set in a school, where sinister behaviour from one of the pupils leads to an escalation in circumstances with devastating effects.

    Much like its inspiration, Otis highlights the sad futility of crimes of passion – and also teen violence. This is captured brilliantly in both Tony Lee's text and Kevin Hopgood's illustrations.

  3. With a kiss I die

    With a kiss I die

    Posted on: Dec 23, 2015

    "These violent delights have violent ends."
    Romeo and Juliet, Act 2 Scene 6

    Romeo and Juliet believe nothing can part them. But Romeo is bitten by a zombie and knows he'll soon turn into one.

    Can their love survive in a world that believes humans and zombies should never be together?

    What could capture a reluctant teenage reader's interest more than Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet with a zombie twist?!

    Tim Collins has excelled himself in creating this truly imaginative version, making an all-time favourite into a tense and eerie story. Featuring fantastic two-tone illustrations by Aleksandar Sotirovski, West Side Zombie is guaranteed to appeal to both girls and boys.

    With short sentences and simple language, Tim has made this title an accessible and modern 'way in' to Shakespeare for teenagers with a reading age of just 6-7. Featuring dyslexia-friendly font and line spacing, this short read consisting of 500-600 words provides a gripping, mature

  4. Birds in a cage

    Birds in a cage

    Posted on: Dec 09, 2015

    "When we are born, we cry that we are come
    To this great stage of fools."
    King Lear, Act 4 Scene 6

    It's 3035. There is no fuel left. Human brain-power is used instead.

    TV talent shows like The Stage exist to keep people's brains buzzing.

    But who are the performers, and what do they lose for a place in the spotlight? Do they even want to be there?

    Do we care?

    A fitting addition to our moody Dark Reads II collection, Bright Lights is based on one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies – King Lear. The story is set in a futuristic world, drawing further inspiration from dystopias such as The Hunger Games as well as the popular TV talent show format.

    We are confident in this story's appeal to a teenage audience, and the low reading age of 6-7 specifically includes and encourages those teenagers who are otherwise reluctant or struggling readers. At no more than 600 words long, this story presents a realistic goal and therefore a real prospect o

  5. Secrets and lies

    Secrets and lies

    Posted on: Dec 04, 2015

    "The serpent that did sting thy father's life
    Now wears his crown."
    Hamlet, Act 1 Scene 5

    Sam keeps getting messages that seem to be coming from his dead father.

    He thinks someone is playing a sick joke on him, and he wants to track them down.

    But he soon uncovers a deadly secret that sets him on course for violent revenge.

    Tim Collins has created a gripping new tale for reluctant and struggling readers, offering a tense but relatable retelling of Shakespeare's Hamlet. Something Rotten is just one of the eight novels in our Dark Reads II series that have been specifically written to appeal to teenagers with a very low reading age of 6-7.

    Featuring memorable two-tone, graphic novel style illustrations by Mark Penman, the reader is encouraged by both the striking pictures and the stimulating story. With a word count of no more than 600, these bite-sized books are perfect for those that are daunted at the thought of reading.

  6. Doomed


    Posted on: Nov 13, 2015

    "For you, the city, thus I turn my back:
    There is a world elsewhere."
    Coriolanus, Act 3 Scene 3

    The planet Titan has run out of fuel so it has decided to invade a nearby planet, Antium, and steal its fuel.

    A great leader will lead them in this invasion to save Titan from certain doom.

    But will he return a hero or a monster?

    Influenced by Shakespeare's Coriolanus, Titan has been expertly written by Danny Pearson to appeal to sci-fi fans. It features a low reading age of 6-7, with the ability to hold the interest of a 13-16 year old. Bursting with attention-grabbing two-tone illustrations, Titan will engage its reader and capture their interest to keep them wanting more.

    Danny has skilfully written Titan with short sentences and simple language which, coupled with the striking illustrations by Aleksandar Sotirovski, ensure this title will appeal to struggling and reluctant readers. Boasting a realistic word count of 500-600, dyslexia-friendly

  7. Face like thunder

    Face like thunder

    Posted on: Nov 11, 2015

    "At this hour
    Lie at my mercy all mine enemies."
    The Tempest, Act 4 Scene 1

    Ariel has a power he's never told anyone about.

    He can create storms.

    When Sebastian pushes him too far on a school trip, he can't stop himself.

    He unleashes his power, and nobody is safe.

    Based on Shakespeare's The Tempest, this book by Tim Collins boasts stormy character clashes and outdoor action, all enhanced by beautiful tempestuous illustrations by Amit Tayal. It will draw in the most reluctant of teenage readers and hold their attention until the very end.

    Features of the series as a whole include a very low word count of 500-600 words, short sentences and line-spacing, dyslexia-friendly font, teenage content, contemporary illustrations and facts and questions at the back to add further depth and understanding.

    Look out for more posts about this brilliant series!

  8. Stabbed in the Back

    Stabbed in the Back

    Posted on: Oct 21, 2015

    "Ambition's debt is paid."
    Julius Caesar, Act 3 Scene 1

    My best friend, Julian, and I were really into music. We sold CDs to our friends, and in time became real DJs.

    Julian changed his name to MC Cesar and hired a bodyguard. I knew he was going too far, but he thought no-one could stop him.

    The problem was, they could.

    Tommy Donbavand skillfully translates his favourite Shakespeare play into a contemporary tale where egos collide and a fatal mistake is made. As with all the titles in this upcoming series, the text is accompanied by striking illustrations, giving it the look and feel of a graphic novel - proven to be an extremely popular writing style with young readers.

    Written for a teenage audience with a reading age of 6-7 and an interest age of 13-16, we are confident that the short sentences and simple language will put the reader at ease and the mature themes explored will appeal to both boys and girls. With Mark Penman's illustrations

  9. Green with Envy

    Green with Envy

    Posted on: Oct 15, 2015

    "Fair is foul, and foul is fair"
    Macbeth, Act 1 Scene 1

    George King dreamed of glory on the rugby field.

    He wanted to be captain. To play for the County – England even!

    And nothing was going to stand in his way!

    The first of our brilliant new Dark Reads to be revealed is called Kicked into Touch by Ann Evans. It follows a darkly ambitious teenager called George as he cheats his way to captaincy of a rugby team, flanked by his 'witchy' fan club. Needless to say, George gets what he deserves in the end.

    An imaginative and un-daunting 'way in' to the story of Shakespeare's Macbeth, this story is appropriate for teenagers with a reading age of 6-7. The language is simple yet gripping, and the short bursts of text are interspersed with fantastic illustrations by Kevin Hopgood.

    The cover below gives a snapshot of the feel of this series. We hope your reluctant readers love it as much as we do!

  10. Titles, authors and more!

    Posted on: Oct 02, 2015

    Feast your eyes on the brilliant authors and illustrators who will be working on each title of this deliciously dark series!

    Due to be published in January next year, we're confident our Dark Reads will appeal to male and female teenagers alike with their striking graphic-style illustrations, modern themes and simple sentence structure.

    Kicked into Touch by Ann Evans
    Illustrated by Kevin Hopgood

    MC Cesar by Tommy Donbavand
    Illustrated by Mark Penman

    Storm Bringer by Tim Collins
    Illustrated by Amit Tayal

    Titan by Danny Pearson
    Illustrated by Aleksandar Sotirovski

    Otis by Tony Lee
    Illustrated by Kevin Hopgood

    Something Rotten by Tim Collins
    Illustrated by Mark Penman

    Bright Lights by Claire Morgan
    Illustrated by Amit Tayal

    West Side Zombie by Tim Collins
    Illustrated by Aleksandar Sotirovski

    Now you've seen the titles, can you guess which Shakespeare play has influenced each

Blog Posts: 1–11 of 10