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