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The Haunting of Tyrese Walker

"Swarming with Jamaican folklore spirits, this tender, gripping chiller sees a boy find light after grappling with the darkness of grief"

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LoveReading4Kids Says

LoveReading4Kids Says

November 2022 Book of the Month | Longlisted for the Jhalak Children’s & Young Adult Prize 2023 | Shortlisted for The Branford Boase Award 2023

Grief, ghosts, family roots, and new-found friends, JP Rose’s The Haunting of Tyrese Walker is at once an adventure-packed thriller and a moving story that sees a boy navigate darkness to live in light. With a rich and palpable evocation of Jamaican landscapes, communities, culture and folklore, this chilling mystery has tremendous heart.

Struggling with the loss of his dad, Tyrese and his mum are spending summer with family in Jamaica. The last time Tyrese came to see his wonderful Grammy was just before his fourth birthday, and rural Jamaica feels a universe away from his Manchester home. After driving up “steep winding roads where the clouds wrapped around the mountains like a thick white ribbon,” Tyrese felt “as if he’d entered a secret land above the earth” — his sense of awe, and alienation from everywhere, and everyone, are superbly evoked.

On his first evening, Tyrese heads out to walk off his frustrations and stumbles upon a gravestone engraved with the image of a snake eating its own tail. And then Grammy asks him to finish scattering rice over her porch to “keep the good duppies in and the bad ones out”, explaining that duppies are spirits of the dead, and by the time they’ve collected each grain of rice, the “sun will be rising and dem will lose most of their power.” Thinking this is “totally crazy”, he discards the rice.

From that moment, matters escalate fast. Tyrese meets a stranger on a beach who tells him the Shadow Man is coming for him. Three pricks of blood appear on his finger. There’s no denying, in the words of his cousin Marvin, that “bad things a gwaan.”

Fabulously paced, the story snakes towards a chilling conclusion during a raging storm in the mountains, with all manner of terrifying beings testing Tyrese’s grip on reality, among them the witch-like, bloodsucking soucouyant, and the shapeshifting, hoofed La Diablesse. And all this is underpinned by Grammy’s wisdom that “darkness can’t drive out darkness, only light can do dat.” This is the perfect book for readers who relish scary adventures, epic settings, and characters who have you rooting for them every step of the mountainous way.

Joanne Owen

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