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Best known for his action-packed Alex Rider series, Anthony Horowitz is also a master of the macabre, as evidenced by these ten terrifying tales. Take the gruesome opener, “Bet Your Life”, that sees 16-year-old Danny participate in the finale of a TV quiz show in which there’s much more at stake than the multimillion pound prize. Other sources of shock include the sinister sat nav in a stolen BMW, a rogue Robo-Nanny, a monumentally messed-up French exchange, and a deeply disturbing incarnation of eBay on which people bid to buy humans. Then there’s the centrepiece of “Are You Sitting Comfortably?”, a monstrous massage chair that serves a generous helping of just desserts to an exploitative stepdad. The stories are sharply crafted, and the writing wryly amusing, with “Note from the Chairman of Walker Books” providing a deliciously dark denouement, and added in-the-know gallows humour to those in the children’s book world. This is a tense, twisted, treat for fans of frightsome fiction, with the bite-sized narrative bursts making it ideal for reluctant readers.
Best-selling Goth Girl is back for an action-packed new adventure in this stunningly produced volume by former Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell which has the additional delight of a mini-book, Fable of a Faun, tucked into it. Lord Goth is turning Ghastly-Gorm Hall into the venue for Gothstock, a sensational music festival that will match his home. Naturally, Ada Goth is thrilled at the thought but will it all go to plan? In both words and pictures Chris Riddell creates an amazing cast of characters and the most original escapades in which they are all entangled.
“Ghosts are everywhere...Just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t there.” So claims Cass, the awesomely amiable heroine of this atmospheric treat for pre-teen readers. But, in Cass’s case, she actually can see ghosts, and her adorable best friend Jacob just happens to be one. Her gift of supernatural sight comes in very handy for her parents, a pair of bungling ghost-hunters called The Inspectres. While they’re on a TV show assignment in eerily-evoked, phantom-ridden Edinburgh, Cass meets a fellow ghost see-er (an In-betweener) and quickly becomes caught up in a high-stakes mission that forces her to hone her gift while traversing the worlds of the living and the dead. Alongside the smart concept and rollicking action, Cass and Jacob’s friendship (replete with fun Friendship Rules, and cemented by their love of comics), gives this tale a tingly, warm glow. Quirky, cute and creepy, this is middle grade fiction at its most entertaining.
Interest Age 8-12 Reading Age 8 | The three stories in Anne Fine’s new Weird Street collection are guaranteed to send delicious shivers down the spine, even on the hottest summer day. In classic Gothic tradition, the narrative is passed from one storyteller to another: three children, neighbours on Weir (aka Weird) Street share local ghost stories. Laila’s tale has a happy ending, but is just uncanny enough to unsettle us; Asim’s story is both scary and tragic, haunting in every sense; while Tom’s is seriously creepy. Anne Fine is a superb writer and knows just how to turn the psychological screw. Highly readable, the stories will deliver their chills on each re-reading too. ~ Andrea Reece Perfect to thrill and chill, and particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+ Barrington Stoke is the foremost publisher of dyslexia friendly books and those for reluctant readers. Here on Lovereading4kids we are constantly selecting new titles and refreshing our special dyslexia friendly category. Click here to view our current selection which is broken down by age range.
This smart sci-fi-infused thriller sees a group of friends faced with having to make the mother of all life and death decisions. The night Bee decides to visit her estranged friends one year on from the mysterious death of her enigmatic boyfriend, Jim, ends with them involved in a car accident, and then they’re dealt a gut-wrenching revelation by a strange old man. Initially dismissive, the friends are soon hit by the realisation that the stranger isn’t just some random crazy, and they really must make the hideous decision he issues them with. While the rest of the group dive into destruction mode, Bee makes some profound realisations: “Without time, nothing had meaning.” Throughout Bee is an engaging narrator, her language and thoughts incisive, measured, lucidly poetic. As her world implodes, she wonders if their situation is somehow because of Jim, whose “death had been the earthquake that swallows cities”. His death continues to cause monumental convulsions as they try to figure out what happened to him, which sees their group dynamic disintegrate into a tangle of distrust. Throw in the secrets of a cult time-travel novel, a showdown with Jim’s parents, and a whole lot of ricocheting revelations, and you have a compelling cauldron of end-days detective fiction.
This first timelessly terrifying tale in a new series from the creator of The Spook’s Apprentice confirms the author’s status as a veritable master of crafting elementally powerful worlds from fascinating pockets of English folklore. Crafty is a Fey. As such he can hear the whisperings of his dead brothers, and he’s immune to the powers of the Shole, a horrifying mist that’s enveloping the Lancashire region. It was the Shole that claimed his non-Fey mother, while his brothers died working for the Chief Mancer, which is what Crafty does now too. After a miserable period shut-up in a cellar with only the occasional companionship of a deceased Bog Queen warrior to brighten his days, he’s passed the test to work as a gate grub, the lowliest of those employed by the Castle Corpus, and a highly dangerous role to boot. Alongside the creeping unfolding of an un-put-down-able story, I adored Crafty’s boundless candor and curiosity, and his friendship with fellow gate grubs Donna and Lucky suffuses his bleak situation with welcome warmth. But, ultimately, with his court courier father missing in action, Crafty is pretty much alone in an increasingly perilous situation… This exquisitely compelling tale tingles with as much raw, pure storytelling prowess and intrigue as it does with the slither and menace of multiple monstrous beasts, and I cannot wait for the second instalment.
Frances Hardinge creates a brilliant sense of menace in this chillingly dark fairy story . Something sinister, beyond just getting wet, happens to Triss when she falls into the Grimmer. Something that causes her to change in all kinds of ways which her parents don't recognise. Triss can feel the changes - she is always hungry, her hair is full of leaves, her tears are like cobwebs and her sister is terrified of her - but she cannot understand why they are happening. Somehow, Triss has been taken over. She is now a changeling and she needs to search through the underworld of the city itself to find the truth. ~ Julia Eccleshare
In a nutshell: thrilling, vivid rugby action, history, ghosts Readers who enjoy rugby or any kind of sport will love Gerard Siggins’ Rugby Spirit series with its exciting mix of brilliantly described rugby action and ghost story. Eoin Madden is a very talented player, but he has an extra gift too, he can see and talk to ghosts. Throughout this series, he has met, helped or been helped by ghosts of great rugby players, often solving mysteries in the process. In this latest episode, Eoin has been called up to play for Ireland’s Under 16s no less and amidst the excitement ghosts arrive again and help him avert a potential catastrophe. The rugby scenes are as thrilling to read as ever, the setting and descriptions of Eoin’s home life just as vivid and convincing while the ghostly visitors give it an extra edge. Another winner! ~ Andrea Reece There are more books in this series and readers will also enjoy Tom Palmer’s Rugby Academy series from Barrington Stoke. A Piece of Passion from Editor Helen Carr : Ger Siggins never fails to come up with interesting ghosts to haunt Castlerock, the boarding school Eoin Madden and his gang of rugby-mad friends attend. These spirits and their back-stories – Rugby Runner’s ghost, William Webb-Ellis is credited as the creator of the game of rugby! – always intrigue, but I also love the books because of Ger’s skill in describing the ups and downs of Eoin’s life, both on and off the rugby pitch. Friends and rivals, teachers and coaches are so well drawn, and I really enjoy the matter-of-fact way Eoin deals with everything life throws at him, from captaining the junior cup team to helping ghosts to foil crimes or right old wrongs.
Interest Age 8-12 Reading Age 8+ Count Dracula’s heir should have the best life in the world! Set to inherit a huge castle, a grand title and the fame of being the greatest vampire in the world, Wilfred should have had a great future ahead of him. But there is nothing about being a vampire that Wilfred likes. Above all, he hates blood! He’d far rather drink some nice fresh milk from a cow. Something seems to have gone very badly wrong. Luckily, Wilfred meets Smirk and the twists in this entertaining mystery are unravelled. ~ Julia Eccleshare Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 8+
In a nutshell: ghosts and football in an exciting, thought-provoking story Tom Palmer’s Defenders series cleverly mixes ghost stories and football and uses past events to throw light on our world. Seth’s mum is waiting to hear if she’s clear of the cancer she’s been treated for and the two are having a weekend in Cornwall to escape the pressure. It’s a peaceful place but with his ghost sight Seth is aware of a violent incident that took place there thousands of years ago and which still resonates. That was born out of suspicion and mistrust of new arrivals, and when he meets two young Syrian refugees now living in the town, Seth realises what needs to change. The story will grip young readers from start to finish, and make them think about their own place in the world. In Barrington Stoke style, it’s accessible to all readers. ~ Andrea Reece The Defenders is a spooky new series that combines the thrills of football, history and supernatural sleuthing and marks Tom’s continuing exploration of his passions. He says: “For years I’ve written about my obsessions with football and rugby. Now I am obsessed with history. One thing I always say to children who ask me for advice on becoming an author, is to write about what they are passionate about. That’s what I’m doing now.” Barrington Stoke is the foremost publisher of dyslexia friendly books and those for reluctant readers. Here on Lovereading4kids we are constantly selecting new titles and refreshing our special dyslexia friendly category. Click here to view our current selection which is broken down by age range.
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