Tag Archives: children’s horror

Win a signed Spook’s Apprentice book

2013-02-21 07.40.17We were lucky enough to have Spook’s Apprentice author, Joseph Delaney, visit us in Christchurch this week.  I’ve been a huge fan of Joseph’s ever since the very first book in the series was released in 2004 so it was great to hear all about the series from the man himself.  It was great to watch the children in the audience reacting to Joseph’s stories and the creepy pictures from his books.

Thanks to Random House New Zealand and Joseph Delaney I have 4 signed Spook’s books to give away.  Four lucky readers will win a signed book each.  All you have to do to get in the draw is enter your name and email address, and answer this question: Who is your favourite character or creature of the dark in the Spook’s series? Competition closes Thursday 28 February (NZ only).

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winners are Ali, Loraine, Julia and Tokhuor.

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Shiverton Hall Book Trailer

Check out the book trailer for Emerald Fennell’s chilling debut novel, Shiverton Hall.  You can read my review here.  It’s available on 3 January in paperback or available now wherever ebooks are sold.

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Shiverton Hall by Emerald Fennell

Barry Hutchison, Will Hill, Joseph Delaney and Derek Landy are some of my favourite authors because of the way that they can creep me out, but also having me hanging on every word.  I can now add another author to this list, one with possibly the coolest name around – Emerald Fennell.  With a name like that you’re destined to become an author or an actress, and she’s both.  Her debut novel, Shiverton Hall, is a chilling tale set in a boarding school in England.

Arthur Bannister has been unexpectedly accepted into Shiverton Hall, which, as it turns out, is an incredibly spooky school, full of surprises. And it is just as well that Shiverton Hall has made its offer, because Arthur had a horrible time at his previous school, and was desperate to leave. Timely indeed . . .

But Arthur has no time to worry about the strange coincidence. He is too busy trying to make head or tail of Shiverton Hall, dogged as it is by tales of curses and bad fortune. At least there are a few friendly faces: George, who shows him around; also Penny and Jake. But not all the faces are friendly. There are the bullying Forge triplets for starters. And then there is the acid tongue of the headmistress, Professor Long-Pitt, who seems to go out of her way to make Arthur’s life a misery.

Luckily Arthur has his new friends to cheer him up. Although there are some friends that you don’t want to have at all, as Arthur is soon to find out.

I absolutely loved Shiverton Hall!  It brings together elements of my favourite horror series, Barry Hutchison’s Invisible Fiends and Will Hill’s Department 19, mixes it with a touch of Chris Priestley’s Tales of Terror stories, and sets it in a kind of sinister Hogwarts.  I don’t want to give too much detail in case I spoil the story, but needless to say, if you love Barry Hutchison’s Invisible Fiends books about sinister invisible friends then you will love this story!  I liken the story to Will Hill’s Department 19 and Chris Priestley’s Tales of Terror because Emerald Fennell breaks up the story of the children in the present time with stories about the history of Shiverton Hall.  The grandfather of George (one of the main characters) wrote a book called Accounts of the Supernatural and Preternatural at Shiverton Hall and Its Surrounds, and George tells his friends some of the stories throughout the book, so you find out about what has happened at Shiverton Hall in the past.  These stories of Shiverton Hall’s past are seriously creepy and I was really 0n edge as I was reading them.  Like when you watch a horror movie, I found myself holding my breath, waiting for something to jump out at me.  These historical stories are what made the book so great and I wanted to know even more about the sinister history of Shiverton Hall.

There is plenty of mystery to keep you reading too.  You want to know what is making the students do strange things, why doesn’t the headmistress believe anything they say, and what secret is Arthur keeping hidden?  Emerald keeps you guessing right up to the very end.  Just when you think the worst is over though, she knocks you in the guts and leaves you desperately wanting more.

I sure hope that Emerald is planning to write a sequel as I’m sure Arthur’s story is far from finished.  I’ll be waiting with bated breath.  In the mean time I’ll go and read her Shiverton short story, The Quality Chophouse, for free here.  If you know any young horror fans, Shiverton Hall is a must read, and it’s perfect for primary and secondary school libraries (Year 7 and up).

5 out of 5 stars

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Invisible Fiends: The Darkest Corners by Barry Hutchison

One very quiet night in the library, two years ago, I was looking for something interesting to read when I came across a new series, called Invisible Fiends.  Mr Mumbles, a story about a boy’s childhood invisible friend who came back and tried to kill him sounded like my kind of book, and I was hooked within the first few pages.  I love stories that send a chill down my spine and Mr Mumbles did exactly that, while also making me laugh.  Now, with the final book in Barry Hutchison’s fantastic series, The Darkest Corners, being released, one of my all-time favourite series has come to an end.  And what an end it is!

Kyle′s dad is everywhere. Really everywhere. In windows, through doors, on advertising billboards. Kyle just can′t escape him – and maybe he′s tired of running, anyway.

It′s time to fight.

But Kyle′s dad is one of the most powerful invisible fiends, and he does nothing without thinking it through. Just as Kyle learns to control his powers, he′s faced with the worst possibility of all. What if the thing that′s needed to open the gate between worlds, and destroy the world, is nothing other than… himself?

The Darkest Corners is an absolutely perfect end to a series that I wish could go on forever.  I admit I had a tear in my eye as I read the last couple of chapters, because I didn’t want to say goodbye to Barry’s characters.  We do get to see each of the Fiends again (if only briefly) and one of my favourite Fiends has a big part to play in this story.  Joseph is a character that shows up in each of the books and Barry’s been keeping us in the dark about who he actually is all the way through.  In The Darkest Corners his true identity is revealed (even though you may have already figured it out like me).  I still found this reveal satisfying though because you finish the book feeling that all the loose ends have been tied up and all the characters are in their right place.  At the end of The Beast, Kyle’s dad revealed something shocking about Ameena and in The Darkest Corners, Ameena continues to shock us.  I won’t tell you how so you’ll just have to read the book.

The thing that I liked most about this book is the reappearance of one of my favourite Fiends.  His relationships with a couple of the other characters provide some of the funniest moments of this book, and we find out why he acted the way he did when Kyle first met him.

As with the other books in the Invisible Fiends series, Barry can creep you out one moment, then make you laugh the next.  He keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering what will happen to Kyle and his friends.

Thank you Barry for introducing us to Kyle, Ameena, Mr Mumbles and all the other Invisible Fiends.  If you haven’t read the Invisible Fiends series I highly recommend it, especially for fans of horror/scary stories for children.

5 out of 5 stars

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Are you Skulduggery’s biggest fan?

If you answered yes to the question above you just might have the chance to meet Derek Landy, the creator of Skulduggery Pleasant, when he comes to New Zealand for his 2012 Down Under Tour in August.  If that isn’t enough, you’ll also get a complete set of Skulduggery books, signed by Derek.  All you have to do to have the chance to meet Derek Landy is go to his website and answer these two questions:

  1. Gordon Edgley is, amongst other things, a horror writer and uncle. He is also dead. Stephanie, his beloved niece, is saddened by this unexpected event. In the first Skulduggery Pleasant Book you are introduced to the rest of Gordon’s family. Name the other family members who make an appearance in the sample chapter on the website.
  2. Tell them in 25 words or less why it should be you meeting Derek Down Under.

What are you waiting for?  Go to www.skulduggerypleasant.co.uk to enter.  You can also listen to a FREE audio book of the very first Skulduggery Pleasant book on his website.

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Invisible Fiends: The Beast by Barry Hutchison

Barry Hutchison’s Invisible Fiends is a series that just keeps getting better and better.  Each of the books in the series has quite a different tone and level of creepiness.  The last book, Doc Mortis was the creepiest, most sadistic book in the series and found Kyle trapped in the Darkest Corners with the demented Doc Mortis.  Barry’s latest book in the series, The Beast, takes the creepiness factor down a notch, but throws in a good dose of humour, some real heart, and answers some of our burning questions.

Kyle and Ameena are on the run after being accused of murdering his mum’s cousin, Marion, and attacking his mum.  They end up at the Keller house, the old house across the road where Kyle fought Mr Mumbles.  After noticing some suspicious behaviour in Kyle’s house they go to check it out, only to find Kyle’s grandmother missing and a dead policewoman.  As they search the streets for Kyle’s grandmother they realise that the neighbourhood is suspiciously quiet, and that’s when their trouble really begins.  Kyle’s neighbours have turned into black-eyed, flesh-eating zombies, which they name screechers because of the horrible screeching sound they make before they attack.   If they didn’t already have enough on their plate, there’s also a huge beast loose on the streets ,with razor-sharp spikes covering its body.  It’s up to Kyle to save the ones he loves, but if he uses his powers he’ll set the hideous monsters from the Darkest Corners loose into his world.  He’ll just have to do it the old-fashioned way.

The Beast is probably my favourite book of the series so far.  Many of my burning questions were answered, especially about Joseph, Ameena and Kyle’s dad.  I’d had my theories but I was wrong about most of them, so it’s good to know Barry can still blind-side me.  One of the things I liked most about this book was that Barry’s humour really shined through.  He can have you laughing out loud one minute and squirming the next.  There is some hilarious banter between Kyle and Ameena, especially in the first half of the book.  This has to be my favourite quote from this book, if not the whole series,

‘I take it she’s not normally like that?’

‘What, foaming at the mouth and battering her face against the window?’ I said.  ‘No, that’s new.’

My favourite part, which had me cackling away, was when Kyle and Ameena were being attacked by the zombie policewoman in the street.  As well as the humour though, there is also some real heart in the story, as it focuses on Kyle’s relationships with his parents, Ameena and Joseph.

Barry ends The Beast with a bang and leaves us waiting with bated breath for the final book in the series, The Darkest Corners (coming later in 2012).  I just know that the final book is going to be horrific, shocking and awful, but totally amazing.

5 out of 5 stars

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Skulduggery Pleasant: Death Bringer by Derek Landy

If you’re a huge fan of Skulduggery Pleasant like me, you’ve been waiting a whole year to find out what happens next to Skulduggery Pleasant and his side-kick Valkyrie Cain.  We were left wondering whether Valkyrie’s dark side would show her head and there was a feeling of impending doom.  Death Bringer doesn’t disappoint and there are plenty of thrill, chills and surprises to keep you on your toes.

Even before I started the story, Derek’s dedication made me crack up so I knew this book was going to be great.  The story starts with you meeting Melancholia St. Clair, a young Necromancer who Craven has chosen to be the Death Bringer.  Who and what the Death Bringer is is revealed throughout the book.  We’re reunited with Skulduggery and Valkyrie when they question a reporter who has been trying to dig up information about some strange disappearances that have occurred recently.  It appears someone is trying to cover up the truth about the Death Bringer and The Passage, and Skulduggery and Valkyrie are determined to get to the bottom of it.  When they discover the truth they must do anything they can to capture Melancholia and stop The Passage.

Death Bringer is a huge book with so much packed into it and I didn’t want it to end.  Skulduggery and Valkyrie face some terrible truths in this book and the line between good and evil is blurred.  You discover more about Skulduggery’s past and get inside Valkyrie’s head.  Because we’re getting close to the end of the series (only 3 more books to go), the story is getting darker and there’s less focus on some of the minor characters.  There’s still plenty of Derek Landy’s humour shining through though and a couple of parts had me laughing out loud, especially this part when Skulduggery meets a family travelling through Roarhaven.

“Ah,” Skulduggery said, “yes.  Very rude man, that shopkeeper.  All’s well, though?  No harm done? Excellent.”  He crouched at the car window and looked in.  “What a lovely family you have.  What a charming family.  They’re all lovely.  Except for that one.”  His finger jabbed the glass.  “That one’s a bit ugly.”

One of my favourite parts has to be the fight between Fletcher and Caelan.  It’s shows you exactly what Derek thinks of Twilight and some of the insults they throw at each other are classic.  Some of my favourite characters are back too, including Vaurien Scapegrace, the decomposing vampire and his follower, Thrasher.  There are also some great new character names including Dexter Vex, Melancholia St Clair and Oblivious.  If you’re a fan of Skulduggery Pleasant make sure you reserve your copy of Death Bringer at the library now, or if you haven’t read any of the series make sure you get your hands on the first Skulduggery Pleasant book.   Recommended for 9+      10 out of 10

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Invisible Fiends: Doc Mortis by Barry Hutchison

When I first picked up an Invisible Fiends book in my library last year I thought, ‘this is a BRILLIANT idea!’  In the past few years I’ve become a huge fan of horror stories for kids and reading the blurb I knew the Invisible Fiends series was going to be great.  The mixture of horrific characters and dark humour had me hooked and I’ve loved every book in the series so far.  The fourth book in the series, Doc Mortis was recently released in the UK but I couldn’t wait until it’s released in New Zealand in October so ordered it from Book Depository.  I got straight into it as soon as it arrived, but took my time as I wanted to savour it.

One of the things I loved about Doc Mortis is that it starts off exactly where The Crowmaster ended.   Kyle has been left wounded by the Crowmaster and is now wanted by the police for murder.  He wants nothing more than to find his mum and make sure she is OK.  Before he gets the chance to find her, Kyle discovers that he has been poisoned by the Crowmaster and he becomes trapped in the Darkest Corners, a place of nightmares.  Kyle wakes up in a decrepit hospital, with hideous creatures trying to get inside and a crazed doctor hunting him.  Doc Mortis wears a filthy lab coat and carries a medical bag full of rusty and bloody instruments, and he wants Kyle for his experiments.  Kyle knows that his only hope of escaping the Darkest Corners is to defeat Doc Mortis and his freakish porters and find the cure to the poison, hidden somewhere in the hospital.

The brilliant Barry Hutchison has, once again, managed to create an even-freakier Fiend and put Kyle in more scary situations.  Barry seems to be able to increase the scare-factor with each Invisible Fiends book and this is no exception.  In previous books Kyle has been able to use his imagination to help him defeat the Fiends but in Doc Mortis he’s left helpless and trapped in the horrific world of the Darkest Corners.  Several things made Doc Mortis my favourite book in the series so far.  The first was the re-appearance of a certain character, which left me feeling completely different about him (I can’t tell you who or it will spoil the surprise, and Barry would kill me!).  The second was that we learn more about what happens to the invisible friends when they get forgotten and why they end up as messed-up as they are.

I highly recommend the Invisible Fiends series, especially for fans of Darren Shan and Derek Landy.  Rush out and get the whole series from your bookshop or library now.

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Countdown to Skulduggery Pleasant: Death Bringer

Skulduggery Pleasant is one of my favourite book characters and I always look forward to his latest battle against the forces of evil.  Luckily I only have to wait a few more weeks as the sixth book, Death Bringer is due out in New Zealand on September 15.  I can’t wait to be reunited with Skulduggery, Valkyrie, Ghastly and Tanith.

If you haven’t read any of the Skulduggery Pleasant books by Derek Landy I highly recommend them.  They’re filled with action, mystery, thrills, chills, brilliant characters and perfectly-timed humour.  If you want a taste of this awesome series, here’s the book trailer:

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Doc Mortis blog tour and short story

I discovered Barry Hutchison’s Invisible Fiends series earlier this year when I was looking through our new titles in the library.  Children’s horror/ghost stories are one of my favourite genres and Barry has to be one of the best writers in this genre.  The Invisible Fiends series is incredibly original and terrifically scary.  Barry has taken the idea of an invisible friend, something that comforts children, and turned it into something that scares the pants off of me, let alone the children these books are aimed at.

I have no idea how he does it, but each book in the series gets creepier and he amps-up the terror.  First there was Mr Mumbles, then Raggy MaggieThe Crow Master, and now there is Doc Mortis.  On the Christchurch Kids Blog, Barry described Doc Mortis as “a deranged imaginary friend who hides in an old abandoned hospital and likes to think he’s a surgeon. He kidnaps children and performs operations on them while they are still awake, turning them inside out, giving them the heads of dogs, and much, much worse.”  He’s also said on his own blog that Doc Mortis is the only book to have given him nightmares while writing it, so it’s going to be pretty freaky.  I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.

Barry Hutchison has just started his Doc Mortis blog tour.  Check Barry’s blog to find out where he is and when.  One of the most exciting parts of the blog tour is that he is posting a five-part short story about the origins of Doc Mortis.  The first part can be found at the excellent  Book Zone for Boys blog, and it will send a chill through you.

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