Colourful, absurd, time-warped and magical, The Battle of the Sun is as likely a book as any other to fire the imaginations of young readers.
Being in part a fairy story, we have a sunflower (behaving like a beanstalk), a dragon, a knight in shining armour, a maiden held captive in a tower and a moral (an interesting one at that, overpaid bankers please note!). But this 'traditional' story has C21 credentials with concepts straight out of existentialist theory (the characters are in a house which exists only inside the brain of the Magus) and Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle ('The Dragon was busy filling the moat with what might have been water, and was but wasn't'). Younger readers, of course, probably won't have the labels but they'll appreciate the paradox and delight in the impossibly twisted logic. They will not have a monopoly on enjoyment, however.
Teeming London streets, bustling and jostling with Elizabethan vigour, add realism while the poetry is consistently rewarding. Often, we find echoes of Dylan Thomas ('the large untidy garden was night-time quiet'). Alchemy, meanwhile, may well have been thoroughly debunked but it has helped to create some memorable literature (Ben Jonson's The Alchemist, for example. Oh, and Winterson has a character called Abel here, too.) The Battle of the Sun creates riches of its own and extends an already long line of magical children's fiction.