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An imaginative modern fairy tale filled with freaky frights and a face-up-to-your-fears message.
October 2019 Debut of the Month
Sinister secrets and ghoulish goings-on are afoot in the sleepy town of Suds, and this devilishly dark debut reveals Suds’s murky mysteries with notable wit and invention.
Suds is a peculiar place beset by unsettling stories of children turning grey and vanishing. When Poppy and Erasmus determine to discover the truth of their town for themselves, their quest takes them to the distinctly disturbing Riddling Woods, where dark, twisting paths mirror the twists and turns of the plot. The writing is rich and lively, with details memorably conjured within a creepily-contained story universe.
With something of the elemental scary absurdity of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, this novel similarly serves as an allegory about finding strength to face fears, and fans of unusual adventures (e.g. Beetle Boy, A Place Called Perfect) will most definitely identify with Poppy as she courageously tackles her most terrifying worries.
A letter from Samuel J. Halpin, author of The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods:
When I was small, I used to creep around our creaking farmhouse at night and check that the windows were shut. It was my ritual, and sleep wouldn’t come without it. Behind the farmhouse was a hill that rose up like a great black wave, cloaked in tangles of white gum trees that stretched out like pale arms in the night. It was my belief that there were things up there: peculiar things. There is something terrifically safe about a book.
Perhaps you remember when you were a child, and there was that one illustration in a favourite story of yours that filled you with such a surging terror that you had to skip over it or cover it up with your outstretched palm whilst you read. There is a unique scope to explore and face fear that only a book can give, and for me, understanding and encountering fear is spectacularly important. Fear excites our imaginations and challenges our barriers, which is why I think it’s so vital that children are given the opportunity to confront what scares them, be it real or imagined, within the confines of the written word.
For many years, fairy tales have been an apparatus for tackling our anxieties and reminding us that there is no courage without fear. Courage is the power to triumph over fear, to look at what scares us straight in the eye – be that fear a ghost, a peculiar thing in the woods or simply a drawing peeking out from between our fingers. The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods is the product of this – that the fairy-tale tradition of doing battle with our fears in order to master them should be upheld and celebrated. I dearly hope you’ll read – and as an added bonus, enjoy – Poppy’s journey as she bravely faces that which she dreads most.
And, if you’re game, then I’d advise reading this book beneath the sheets, with the help of a torch, preferably on a night when the wind is playing games with your windows… And remember: hide the sugar, should you be wise. Stow away your dreams. And watch the skies with wary eyes lest no-one hear your screams.*
*All to be revealed in The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods!
Best wishes, Sam
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This is the story of a sleepy town called Suds. A place where stories fill the air of children who keep turning grey and disappearing without a trace... Poppy and Erasmus are certain there's something peculiar going on in Suds, and they're determined to unravel its secrets. But when they discover the answers might lie in the dark and twisting woods, can they find the courage to creep inside and solve this riddling mystery?
“A thrilling read...flavoured with fairytales, drizzled with a syrup of fear and sprinkled with heart.” M.G. Leonard, author of Beetle Boy
“The real joy of his writing lies in his ability to observe adult vanities through the eyes of a child.” Emily Bearn, Daily Telegraph
“Prepare for a quirky read that will keep you on the edge of your seat.” The Week Junior, Book of the Week
“This is a pacey, edge-of-your-seat tale with a big heart” Jo Clarke, school librarian | ReadingZone (KS2 Book of the Month)
“It is beautifully written and has characters you can enjoy getting to know. The story keeps you interested right through to the end.” Scoop Magazine
“A story woven in the finest of silk threads and stitched full of imagination. Poppy and Erasmus will warm even the coldest of beating hearts!” Helena Duggan, author of A Place Called Perfect
“A deliciously dark fairytale.” Lisa Thompson, author of The Goldfish Boy
“With its fast-paced action, tantalising air of mystery, finely wrought balance between good and evil, and the stunning illustrations of Hannah Peck to add extra life and vibrancy, The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods is the best-stitched piece of adventure storytelling you will read this year. ” Pam Norfolk, Lancashire Evening Post
“Darker in tone than much of the current crop of middle-grade adventures, Halpin weaves a tantalising web with echoes of Tim Burton and Neil Gaiman.” The Bookseller
|Publication date:||10th January 2019|
|Author:||Samuel J. Halpin|
|Publisher:||Usborne Publishing Ltd|
|Suitable for:||11+ readers, 9+ readers|
|Genres:||Adventure Stories, Fantasy / Magical, Horror / Ghost Stories|
|Recommendations:||Debuts of the Month|
Born in Tasmania with Irish roots, Samuel J. Halpin is 27 and writes daily. Having studied journalism at the University of New South Wales, Samuel went on to take cinematography at AFTRS, the national Australian film school in Sydney before moving to London and working in comedy TV production. The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods is his first answer to a childhood raised on a hodgepodge of fairy tales, crowded bookshelves and cups of hot chocolate.More About Samuel J. Halpin