"It starts when a clue inscribed on a Half-Heart Locket leads Bree and her best friends Sandy and Honey to an ancient, magical book. With it they can freeze time, fly and shrink to the size of ants.

But they soon discover the book has a long history of destruction and death. And it's being sought by the monstrous Thalofedril, who will stop at nothing to get it. Using its incredible powers, he could turn the world into a wasteland.

Bree, Sandy and Honey go on the run-hurtling off city rooftops, down neck-breaking ravines, and through night-black underground tunnels-to keep the book out of his lethal hands. Little do they know that the greatest danger of all lies ahead, in the heart of his deadly lair...

Can Bree find the courage to face this terrifying evil, and to confront the secrets of her tragic past?"

Punchy and exciting, this is a thrilling page-turner from a dazzling new talent.


"Eight months after her death-defying escape from Castle Zarcalat, Bree McCready thinks she’s seen the last of the half-heart locket and the dangerous magical book that goes with it... until Honey’s kid sister Mimi disappears.

Suddenly, the locket and the book plunge Bree, Sandy and Honey into a world divided by the mysterious Flame of Irenus. Burning in a secret part of the castle, some think the Flame is the source of peace and light. Others say it brings bloodshed and must be extinguished.

Faced with a bone-crunching race against time to rescue Mimi and find the hidden chamber, Bree must rely on her friends more than ever. But a new boy at school has caught her eye and brought unexpected jealousy... She saved the world once before. Saving her friendships might not be as easy"

The explosive sequel to Bree McCready and the Half-Heart Locket is packed with action, secrets and heartbreak.


"Who would have guessed it? A shy swat, a psycho rebel and a lanky nerd try to save the world...for a third time!

Strange things start to happen at the Halloween funfair, and fourteen year old Bree McCready immediately suspects they have something to do with the half-heart locket.

Sensing trouble, Bree, and her friends Sandy and Honey, seek out the magical book, despite knowing it will take them on yet another terrifying adventure. They embark on an epic journey, which takes them to the Realm of the Lost - a place where normal rules do not apply.

Armed only with The Book and a map, the trio negotiate unknown territory, discovering strange creatures, deadly traps and new friends...only to end up in the darkest place imaginable.

Friendships and loyalties are tested to the extreme as Bree, Sandy and Honey try to fulfil their promise to keep The Book safe from the clutches of evil. Will they finally be able to put their demons to rest?

The third book in the Bree McCready series is another action-packed page-turner, full of surprises, and the darkest of revelations.

"A terrific story that had me hooked from beginning to end. I loved it!" D.A Nelson, author of the award-winning DarkIsle

"Bree McCready and the Half Heart Locket was a superb fantasy adventure but I think Flame of Irenus may be even better" Our Book Reviews Online

"..a good balance of adventure, puzzles, friendship and humour. The action simply doesn't stop so it's very hard to put the book down at the end of a chapter" The Bookbag

"Good friends, actions and thrills, oh my! Bree had all of it" The Book Owl

"5 stars! A marvelous read. Snappier and more action packed than Harry Potter" Our Book Reviews Online

"This tale will have children eagerly flipping the pages to see what comes next and how the story ends" The Supermom

Friday, 24 December 2010

Wishing you a very merry Christmas. May 2011 be filled with laughter, fun and friendship... (and another Bree McCready adventure!)

Thanks for all your support over the last year.
Hazel x

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Mrs Matlow's Christmas Cookies

Mrs Matlow's Christmas Cookies can be found in Chapter One of
Bree McCready and the Half Heart Locket by Hazel Allan

"Mrs Matlow had to shout into the microphone to be heard.
'There will now be a break for cookies and egg nog!'
She indicated a rickety old table disguised with a festive tablecloth, piled high with homemade Christmas cookies and mince pies..."

1lb/450g plain flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
Pinch of salt
8oz/225g butter or margarine
7oz/200g caster sugar
2 large eggs
A few drops of vanilla essence

Pre-heat oven to 350F/180C (Gas Mark 4)
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Stir in the caster sugar.
Beat the eggs together with the vanilla essence and mix them into the flour mixture to form a firm dough (Go on! Get your hands messy!)
Roll out the dough (around a quarter of an inch thick) on a lightly floured surface.
Using Christmas cutters make shapes out of the dough and place them onto a well greased baking tin *
Bake for 12 minutes until they’re golden and the kitchen smells yummy.
Cool the cookies on a wire rack (if you can resist their lure!) and prepare the icing.

6oz/175g icing sugar (sifted)
Half an ounce/15g softened butter
20ml/4 teaspoons of boiling water

Be patient! The icing will only slide off if the cookies aren’t completely cool.

Mix together the icing ingredients and coat each biscuit smoothly. You can add food colouring if you like and use things like chocolate buttons, dolly mixtures, glace cherries and vermicelli to decorate. Enjoy!

* Note: If you fancy making decorations for your Christmas tree this is the stage where you should use a tiny cutter or a clean pencil to make a hole in the dough. It might look huge at the moment but during the baking process the hole will shrink. When the cookie is complete you can thread Christmas ribbon through the hole and loop it over a branch. Santa won't be able to resist!

Bree McCready and the Half Heart Locket is set at Christmas time so it really is a super Christmas read!

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Side by side...

A stack of Bree McCready and the Flame of Irenus...

For details on where to buy the Bree McCready books - local stockists etc - please contact Keith Charters at

Monday, 15 November 2010

The wonderful Primary 7's at Linlithgow Bridge Primary School in West Lothian painted this amazing door poster of "Bree McCready and the Flame of Irenus" to celebrate the launch of the newest book in the series. I think it is fab!

Thanks guys x

Wednesday, 10 November 2010


Listen to my recent interview on Mearns FM - without the music sadly, but you'll get the gist ; )

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Sandy, my hero

A boy doesn’t have to go to war to be a hero. He can say he doesn’t like pie when he sees there isn’t enough to go around

Edgar Watson Howe

I heard an interesting conversation on the radio this morning about whether there are enough strong role models in children’s literature. I always knew I was going to have a strong female protagonist in my novel “Bree McCready and the Half Heart Locket” and I feel proud that young girls find Bree and Honey characters they can look up to and aspire to be like.

But what about Sandy?

If I had taken the obvious route and written Sandy Greenfield as a macho, testosterone packed lad he would not only have been a stereotype but he may also have damaged the fragile ego of the average 10 year old boy who is looking for someone to identify with.

Sandy is anxious, cynical and a bit of a Mr Grumble but there is so much more to him than first meets the eye and he is very courageous… in his own way.

Didn’t Arthur Ash once say that “true heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic”? Throughout the Bree books Sandy shows a quiet, humble heroism and he saves the day on more than one occasion. Sandy is my hero in as much as he is an ordinary young man who finds the strength to endure and face his fears despite some overwhelming obstacles. He may be flawed and he may fail sometimes but he wins out in the end because he stays true to his love, loyalty and commitment to Bree. He stands up for what he believes in even when the cost is high and he never loses his sense of self. I am convinced there must be lots of young boys out there who will relate to Sandy and who will ultimately love him for his quirkiness and unashamed lack of confidence.

Sandy’s parents left when he was three years old so it is understandable that he is a little cautious and pessimistic about life. He may be reluctant to throw himself into the action but he does so anyway. To me that is real bravery. As a person who can find terror in the smallest of things and who all too often sees the dark side of life I know only too well how difficult it is to “face your fears and do it anyway“. But Sandy does this all the time! And he grows as a person as a result of this. Watching him overcome some of his uncertainties is what I think makes him such a fascinating character.

Sandy is Sandy. Simple as that. Graham Greene (author of Brighton Rock and The Third Man) once gave some good advice about writing when he said “The moment comes when a character does or says something that you hadn’t thought about. At that moment he’s alive and you leave it to him”. That’s how I feel about Sandy. I couldn’t change him now even if I wanted to.

I took a big risk when I decided to write an action adventure novel where the female characters outnumber the males. The fantasy/adventure genre has traditionally been the realm of male protagonists, masculine modes of heroism and patriarchal values. Everyone knows that most boys will not be seen dead reading a novel about girls and because of this most writers steer away from girl leads and opt for a principal boy character with a girl sidekick (no names mentioned!) I bravely decided to buck this trend and turn the tables a bit. I was always aware that Sandy might alienate boys who were looking for a specific kind of superhero. Thankfully the reality has been very different and I get fantastic feedback from young boys who think Sandy "rocks".

Martha Brockenbrough’s excellent article raises some important issues about raising our boys to only read about boys.

The problem isn’t the books..” she says, “’s the way we’re raising our boys. If they aren’t willing to read about girls, and if we’re indulging that sort of nonsense, then we are raising boys who will have a hard time functioning in a world where girls play serious roles”. Brockenbrough continues by saying “If boys aren’t reading, perhaps it’s because we’re not helping them understand what a great story it is and we’re not insisting they respect girls as their equals

I desperately want to reach more boy readers (having a son myself) but I would never compromise my characters in order to achieve this. I think in time boys will really “get” Sandy and in the meantime there is enough action and baddies in both books to hopefully convince them that this is not a series solely for a girl audience. This is not a story about being female, it’s a story about friendship and good versus evil. It’s an action adventure story that just happens to have two strong female characters at the forefront.

COMING NOVEMBER 2010 - Bree McCready and the Flame of Irenus - the action packed sequel to Bree McCready and the Half Heart Locket.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Bree's doll's house...

The living room where Bree, Sandy and Honey hide from the evil Thalofedril...

The spiral staircase that leads up to the attic room...

Someone has left the toilet seat up!

Anyone fancy a cup of tea at the bamboo dining table?

Upstairs and downstairs in Bree McCready's doll's house...
The outside of the house with all its lovely detail. Come on in...

Excerpt from Chapter nine of Bree McCready and the Half Heart Locket "A Miniature Adventure"

The doll's house started to vibrate again, knocking crockery from the table. The settee started to bounce along the floor and they moved with it, hoping that it would conceal them. Then, as abruptly as it had started, the shaking stopped and there was silence.
They looked at each other, barely daring to breath. Honey rose to her knees and looked around the arm of the settee.
Filling the entire window was an enormous red eye. The staring, hungry eye of a predator. The narrow iris darted from side to side, searching. Its pupil was a deep well of blackness in which Honey could see a watery reflection of the room.
She gasped, threw herself back down and motioned for the others to stay still and quiet.
The room had suddenly become unbearably warm. Sandy's glasses steamed up, but it did not matter: his eyes were firmly shut. The Evil One sniffed and grunted behind the thin glass as though he were relying more on his sense of smell than his vision.
Suddenly and violently the floor started to tilt and the little bookcase fell forward, scattering its contents everywhere. The table overturned and the tea set crashed to the carpet.
"He's picking up the house!" cried Bree as the sofa slid across the floor, "Hold on!"....

Read more from Bree McCready and the Half Heart Locket by Hazel Allan before the sequel hits the shelves at the end of October!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

I'll be on the radio tomorrow (Sunday 17th October from 2-3pm) talking to Elaine May Smith about Bree McCready and my life as a writer. Exciting! Listen live here : )

Monday, 4 October 2010

Scottish Book Trust...

...have chosen Bree McCready and the Flame of Irenus as their Book of the Month! Thanks guys : )

Sunday, 19 September 2010


The sequel to Half Heart Locket:

Bree McCready and the Flame of Irenus (Strident 2010)

Eight months after her death-defying escape from Castle Zarcalat, Bree McCready thinks she’s seen the last of the half-heart locket and the dangerous magical book that goes with it... until Honey’s kid sister Mimi disappears.

Suddenly, the locket and the book plunge Bree, Sandy and Honey into a world divided by the mysterious Flame of Irenus. Burning in a secret part of the castle, some think the Flame is the source of peace and light. Others say it brings bloodshed and must be extinguished.

Faced with a bone-crunching race against time to rescue Mimi and find the hidden chamber, Bree must rely on her friends more than ever. But a new boy at school has caught her eye and brought unexpected jealousy... She saved the world once before. Saving her friendships might not be as easy.

The explosive sequel to Bree McCready and the Half-Heart Locket is packed with action, secrets and heartbreak.

Saturday, 21 August 2010


Bree McCready and the Flame of Irenus now has an official Facebook page!

And for those of you who are not already a member of the "Bree McCready and the Half Heart Locket by Hazel Allan" Facebook page come along and join us here for updates and reviews and more!
: )

Friday, 20 August 2010

Coming Soon!..

Watch out for the sequel to Half Heart Locket coming this October!
Bree McCready and the Flame of Irenus

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Friday, 25 June 2010

More reviews!

Read "Our Book Reviews" review of 'Bree McCready and the Half Heart Locket' here. Many thanks to Mary who gave it 5 out of 5.
: )

Here's another review by Karlynn Johnston aka The Super Mom. Smashing!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Don't judge a book by its cover... a saying I use often but one which definitely does not apply to children's books. Let's face it, the first thing we do when we go to buy a book (or borrow one from the library) is to look at the front cover. If we like what we see then perhaps we'll read the blurb and take it from there. It's so important that the cover design reflects the story inside. When the time came to think about a cover for "Bree McCready and the Half Heart Locket" we knew it had to be eye-catching and send the message that the story behind the cover was exciting and mysterious but also had an element of 'horror' and danger. There are some dark parts to Bree's story and this had to be captured in the cover illustration.
My favourite part of writing a book is waiting to see what the cover design will look like. It's a bit like expecting a baby in so many ways! You carry this precious thing around with you for so long and finally you get to meet them face to face. Suddenly everything feels complete. I always knew that the moon should feature on the cover of the first book but I also had to accept that I knew very little about book illustration and even less about art. I trusted Graham (my lovely editor) implicitly and he did not let me down. He did not relax until we had a cover that did justice to Bree and her story. Imagine my delight when I first saw the rough drafts for my debut novel. Lawrence Mann is the guy who designed what is now the brilliant cover for "Bree McCready and the Half Heart Locket" Check out his website, he truly is a brilliant artist. Here's what Graham, Commissioning Editor at Strident Publishing had to say about him.

"Lawrence has a rare - and invaluable - knack of being able to strike exactly the right note first time with his designs. This can only come from the combination of a formidable talent and a shrewd understanding of the material and its market. All publishers are grateful for this kind of intuition, but for small publishers it can be a lifesaver. The work he has designed for us took our collective breaths away from the first preparatory sketch and the final versions were beyond our expectations"

I remember the first time I saw the completed design. It felt like someone had reached into my brain and dug around inside my imagination. That's a goosebump moment, I can tell you! Somehow, Lawrence had managed to draw the characters exactly as I had seen them in my mind's eye (only Sandy's glasses were missing but I'm fine with that now - I tell the kids I meet that he has removed his glasses so that he can blow his nose!) I fell in love with the illustration instantly and nine months later I am still finding tiny details that I didn't see the first time round. I love everything about this cover right down to the multi-coloured fingernails on Honey's hand and the fact that the moon looks like it would still glow even if all the lights in the room were turned off. And of course there is the fantabulous logo (see above) which feels so iconic and well established ("somewhere between the Mystery Machine and Motorhead" ~ Graham Watson)
I cannot WAIT to see what Lawrence comes up with for the sequel to the first book, "Bree McCready and the Flame of Irenus" which will be in all good book shops sometime late Summer. I have an image in my head of what I would like to see (oranges and reds will take over from the now familiar deep pink?) but I trust Lawrence to do what is best for Bree and he may come up with something entirely different.
I feel so privileged to have Lawrence Mann on board for Bree McCready. I suppose I see Bree, Honey and Sandy as my children and therefore, like any good parent I believe they deserve only the best. I think I have that with Lawrence.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Annie's Banannie Muffins

"Annie clicked her fingers together as if suddenly remembering something important.
‘Ooh! And switch the oven off while you’re in there—those banana muffins should be ready by now!’
Annie’s words coincided with a strong waft of fresh baking and Bree felt a hollow grumble in the pit of her stomach. Annie Hooten made the best banana muffins within a hundred miles. People came from far and wide for them"

Annie’s Banana Muffins (Chapter 4 ~ Annie Helps Out)

Makes approximately 15 yummy muffins

1oz/25g caster sugar
12oz/340g self-raising flour
Half a teaspoon of salt
12floz/340ml milk
1 egg
2oz/55g butter or margarine
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
2 medium bananas (mashed)

Pre-heat the oven to 400F/200C (Gas Mark 6)
Lay 15 muffin cases out onto a baking tray
Place the sugar, flour and salt into a mixing bowl
In a separate bowl beat the egg, milk and vanilla essence together
Make a hole at the centre of the dry mixture, and then pour the wet mixture into it
Stir briefly (do not beat all the air out of the mixture though!)
Melt the butter in a small saucepan then add it to the batter. Stir well and don’t worry if it all looks a little bit lumpy, it’s supposed to!
Add the mashed bananas to the sticky mixture and stir again (Annie sometimes adds broken walnuts too for extra crunch!)
Spoon the batter into the muffin cases and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until golden on the top
Remove carefully from the hot oven and leave to cool before tucking in (if you can wait that long!)

Delicious for breakfast served warm with runny honey or creme fraicheMmm!

Friday, 26 February 2010

Try this recipe for Zarcalat Scones!

"Don approached a small table in the middle of the room upon which was a large goblet and a platter piled high with hot scones..
An aroma of cinnamon wafted across the room, filling their nostrils and teasing their grumbling bellies.
Don picked up a scone from the pile and broke it in half, to reveal a fluffy, steaming centre..."

Zarcalat Scones (Chapter 15 of "Bree McCready and the Half Heart Locket")

Pre-heat oven to 220C/ 425F or Gas Mark 7

175g/6oz self-raising flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
75g/3oz butter, cut into small pieces
75g/3oz caster sugar
50g/2oz oatmeal
75g/3oz dried cranberries
5-6 tablespoons milk
Beaten egg to glaze

Grease a baking sheet.
Place the flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a bowl.
Add the butter and mix with fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the sugar and oatmeal and stir with a big spoon.
Add the cranberries and milk and blend until the mixture forms soft dough. (You might have to get your hands in there so check they’re clean!)
Turn out dough onto a floured surface and roll out to ¼ inch thickness.
Cut out rounds using a 2” cutter (or heart shaped like the photograph)
Transfer the dough circles/hearts to the greased baking tray and brush with the beaten egg - this recipe should make around 10 scones.
Sprinkle some additional oatmeal over the top.
Bake for 10-12 minutes until risen and golden.
The scrumptious scent of cinnamon should fill the house!
Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly, but best served still warm.

Serve split and buttered - delicious!

There are plenty other recipes from the book, just email me at for more ; )

Saturday, 30 January 2010

A lovely email from a complete stranger...

..really brightens the day!

Hi Hazel,

We just wanted to email you to say how much we are enjoying your first book.
Well done.
I'm reading it as well as my son who is ten and we keep trying to out pace each other in who gets further in the story. At the moment my son is winning!
Your descriptions are excellent. We are enjoying them, and my son especially enjoyed the jokes!
I've never seen him finish a book so quickly as he usually has at least ten books on the go at once but your book he has been unable to put down!
We do hope you go on to write more Bree adventures. It really 'floods' the imagination, and also gives out a strong message of hope through struggle and grief.
It would be great as a film. We are already imagining some of the scenes!
My daughter is a budding writer and I hope she goes on to write as well as you do.
Kind Regards.....

Thankyou, wherever you are : )

Five reviews on Amazon.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

See me read...

...from Chapter 10 of Bree McCready and the Half Heart Locket on Youtube here!