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For those who enjoy a spooky tale, we have scary stories galore. From cute little ghosts for younger readers to truly terrifying reads for teenagers, you can find a wide selection of books in this section.
October 2020 Debut of the Month | Some girls like ballet; some like football; Aveline Jones likes ghosts. And anyone who enjoys a creepy, well-plotted, atmospheric ghost story will love this book. The setting is a little West Country fishing port, where Aveline is staying with her aunt while her mother is away. Hallowe’en is approaching and Aveline is unsettled by the village’s custom of leaving life-size manikins of children outside the houses – it’s seriously spooky. A visit to the local second-hand bookshop begins an adventure that will reveal the reason for the dolls, and one that sees Aveline herself caught up in an old tragedy that still haunts the villagers. It’s deliciously creepy reading, just the thing to add a frisson of fear as the nights draw out and highly recommended!
If ever there was a picture book to be enjoyed in the long winter nights, when there’s a crackle of frost in the air, it’s this one. Snow Ghost comes shimmering out of the air, she soars over hills and woods, darkening as evening draws in, searching for somewhere to settle. Nowhere seems to offer a welcome and she’s lonely and getting tired when on top of a hill she spots a small farm with two happy children in the garden. They all play together in the snow until night falls completely and as the children go in, Snow Ghost settles on the roof, home at last. Snow Ghost is a magical creation in Diana Mayo’s illustrations, floating across the pages almost not there, yet a tangible presence, and we look down with her on the valleys, fields and quiet little town below. The sense of stillness – then joy and hope – is perfectly captured in Tony Mitton’s text which is as graceful and airy as Snow Ghost herself. A perfect story for this time of year, a celebration of hope and belonging.
Opening the pages of this eerie anthology is akin to creeping through creaky doors to explore a haunted house. To wander corridors and halls, rooms and chambers that have been darkly decorated by a host of hallowed writers. Here readers will encounter the skulking terrors of Joseph Delaney’s timeless, gripping The Castle Ghosts. The clever, contemporary creepiness of Robin Jarvis’s The Beach Hut. Then there’s Philip Reeves’s long-lingering, translucently lyrical The Ghost Wood. There are eleven tales in all, each written by a truly top-class writer, among them Matt Haig, Derek Landy, Susan Cooper, Mal Peet, and Jamila Gavin. Some tingle with menace. Others are outright scary. Some are modern, others infused with the terrors of traditional Gothic tales. And all of them are exquisitely executed. Perfect for reading aloud as the nights draw in, the stories here also make excellent introductions to a fine set of writers.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2020 | Everyone is welcome at Spooky School! Everyone who likes to be scared a bit! Open the pages of this fun board book and join the pupils as they learn how to fly like a witch on a broomstick and to howl like a werewolf. Or join in a dance for skeletons. And, don’t forget, spookiness can be caring too. There’s loads of fun on the Halloween theme. But just watch out for spiders….
This emotive, richly-detailed novel illuminates a dark period of history with grace and lyricism through a perfectly-paced plot. England, 1659 – an era of terror and persecution for women who might be accused of witchcraft. One such woman is Mary’s grandmother, the wise woman who raised her, someone the community once turned to in times of birth, sickness and death. But those times have passed. When her grandmother is hanged for witchcraft after a ludicrous trial, Mary fears for her own life, but she’s swiftly and quietly brought to safety by a woman she doesn’t know, with a passage to America arranged for her. In the New World Mary will adopt a new identity and make a new life among Puritans. Mary’s life in Salem is described in evocative detail - the heat that “does not fade with the setting sun”, the fireflies, the “dour” people whose “faces show a history of work and hardship.” But the Puritans find Salem too soft for them, and so they press further into the wilderness, to the Beulah (‘Bride of God’) settlement. Life is strict, and worsens for Mary when old superstitions re-emerge after she uses her healing wisdom. It’s while searching for herbs in the woods that she befriends Jaybird, a Native American boy, and meets his shaman grandfather. The novel tells of their history and spiritual beliefs with an engaging deftness of touch, but since the Puritans regard Native Americans as “the Devil’s instruments”, as people who live “in sin, and in degradation”, Mary’s association with Jaybird adds to their suspicion of her. Presented as pages from Mary’s journal found centuries later, this is an engaging joy from start to cliff-hanger finish. As Witch Child ends, so Sorceress begins...
This captivating sequel sees contemporary Native American Agnes discover deep connections to her ancestress Mary, whose story enchanted readers in Witch Child. Deftly interweaving narratives of the past and present, and laced with atmosphere, authenticity and insights into Native American culture, this is an exhilarating, emotion-driven feast for fans of historical fiction. Agnes is proud of her Native American heritage, though her fellow anthropology students don’t call her by her tribal name, Karonhisake - Searching Sky. After reading the historic diaries of Mary Newbury and being struck by a vision type experience, Agnes feels compelled to contact the researcher who found Mary’s diaries. She has a hunch that Mary might be the young woman she’s heard stories about on her home reservation. As things turn out, her formidable Aunt M, a medicine woman, is already miles ahead of her in knowing this. Bristling with intrigue and ethical commentary on the acquisition and appropriation of Native American objects (“What right they got to any of that stuff? Bunch of grave robbers!”), this tells the remarkable tales of two remarkable young women connected across time.
This comic picture book cleverly demonstrates the dangers of being swayed by popular opinion. New boy Peter is quickly branded the baddest boy in school and it does indeed seem that he’s given to doing naughty things. So when the school’s pet rat goes missing from his cage, everyone assumes Peter is responsible. Only one person knows the truth, and that Peter’s bad behaviour is not what it seems either. The book explores the dynamics of any classroom while also showing us that strange or different doesn’t equal bad and that categorising people on assumptions is never a good idea. Peter is a very charming little character, with his cape, fangs and lacy collar, and the story is beautifully told by its mystery narrator. Original, memorable, and lots of fun.
There are thrills galore in this stylish lift-the-flap book. Each page features a different creature – fish, bat, spider snake – and each looks pretty innocuous until you pull open the elongated flap then, good heavens, what horrors are revealed! The fish is no guppy, but a piranha with a gaping mouthful of sharp teeth (and a smaller fish about to be eaten)! Pull up the flap for the octopus and discover what’s inside – it’s not a pretty sight! Each flap reveals something more gruesome and revolting than before until the final image of a pumpkin, which turns out to be concealing some very creepy surprises. Young children will revel in these opportunities to be shocked and disgusted, and will shriek with glee at each new ghastliness revealed. The illustrations and bold colours are very striking and add just the right amount of humour to the horror. Nasty but nice!
October 2020 Debut of the Month | A gobble-it-up fiery and intense yet thoughtful debut novel about family, betrayal, and witchcraft. Opening the pathway to a fabulous historical fantasy series this calls out as a must-read for young adults. Set during the civil war in 17th century England, 15 year old Evey has to flee with her little sister Dill when her mother is murdered. As with all good young adult novels, it is perfectly easy to slide into and really enjoy as an adult too, particularly with the wonderful cover drawing you in. Touching history, it flies into fantasy, as author Finbar Hawkins examines the meaning of witch. Evey is a complex character and as she tells her own story she has the ability of self-reflection, even if she doesn’t always like what she sees. Witch is a read that fair on crackles with energy, it also encourages thoughts to both consider and soar and deservedly sits as one of our LoveReading debuts of the month.
This inventive page-turner opens with a superb sense of peril as sixteen-year-old Alfie moves from Bristol to spend summer in a small village in the north of England. There’s menace from the moment he chances upon a stone in a churchyard and local girl Mia explains the superstitions around it - if a person walks around the stone three times uttering the words “I don‘t believe in witches” Meg Shelton will come for you! Keen to show he doesn’t believe such nonsense, Alfie does exactly that - with immediate menacing effects, and it’s not long before he realises that he’s become a conduit for Meg, a woman murdered for being a witch way back in 1705. Defying convention and expectation, not only is this a gripping page-turner, but it’s brilliantly funny too, with comedy springing forth the moment Meg springs into Alfie’s life (and shower…). What’s more, it’s also edge-of-your-seat pacey as Alfie and Mia - with the help of Mia’s witch-expert aunt - race against time to help Meg make peace with her past, with the stakes high, and their feelings running pretty high too.
Department 19 is utterly addictive. Packed with great characters and brilliantly plotted, the series sets a new benchmark for YA thrillers. This is book four in the explosive series from bestselling author, Will Hill. if you're looking for a fast-paced white knuckle ride that's utterly gripping as zero hour approaches then this is the series for you.
A 'Debut of the Year 2011' selection. This is a well crafted debut paranormal novel for teens but it's much more than that for it features a cleverly laid plot that revolves around a government secret agency who pull into the organisation a 14 year old Jamie whose mother has been kidnapped by some strange creatures. And yes, vampires do also come into it, most of them as baddies and involved in some quite gruesome parts to the plot but very necessary to keep the reader engaged. Much more action, suspense and, yes, gore than you'd expect from the typical paranormal/horror offerings at the current time and well worth a read. In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.
April 2013 Book of the Month Book 3 from the talent behind the bestselling hardback YA debut of 2011. Dracula is on the verge of coming into his full power. Department 19 is on the back foot. Department 19 faces a new and potentially deadly threat, born out of one of the darkest moments of its own long and bloody history. Zero Hour is coming. And the Battle Lines have been drawn. Ladies and gentlemen: welcome to war. The stakes? Mankind's very survival... With terrific action and suspense and plenty of gore too this series is brilliant but not for the faint-hearted! In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review the first in the Department 19 series.
Book 3 from the talent behind the bestselling hardback YA debut of 2011. Dracula is on the verge of coming into his full power. Department 19 is on the back foot. Department 19 faces a new and potentially deadly threat, born out of one of the darkest moments of its own long and bloody history. Zero Hour is coming. And the Battle Lines have been drawn. Ladies and gentlemen: welcome to war. The stakes? Mankind's very survival... With terrific action and suspense and plenty of gore too this series is brilliant but not for the faint-hearted!
The epic conclusion in the blood-poundingly brilliant Department 19 series, from bestselling author, Will Hill. Since 1891 when Abraham Van Helsing and a group of friends faced Dracula, the world's first vampire and won, the survivors of that battle founded Department 19, and have been secretly saving the world ever since. The Department 19 files - and this is the fifth and final one - is their story.
“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.
It’s the perfect time of year for scary stories and there’s a wonderfully varied selection in this excellent collection all written by prize-winning children’s authors. For example, Michael Rosen retells a couple of scary folk tales to deliver thrills with a moral, while Jamie Rix describes the misery suffered by a man whose school dinners return to haunt him – a ghastly thought indeed! Bel Mooney’s story shows that a powerful imagination is not always a good thing, while Ruth Ainsworth tells a ghostly story of loss and remembrance. Chosen by an experienced children's bookseller, the stories are just right for either newly confident independent readers or for sharing with an adult. ~ Andrea Reece
Interest Age 9+ Reading Age 8+. Fast-paced and fun, it will have you quaking in your boots quicker than you can say knife. Chaos ensues when Jake discovers that a zombie likes to party and my goodness, this one seriously likes to party. To view other titles we think are suitable for reluctant readers please click here. A Dyslexia Friendly title.
Interest Age Teen, Reading Age 8+ Camping in the abandoned football stadium sounds like a great outing to mark the beginning of the holiday. Lucas, Irfan and Jack are all prepared. Together, they scale the fence and set up camp on the now overgrown pitch. But something is haunting them. Could it be the ghost of the brilliant young footballer who died in mysterious circumstances? Soon the three boys are caught up in more than they had bargained for in an exciting and spooky adventure.
Seth’s not like other boys, he can see people from the past wherever he goes. The installation of new floodlights at his football team Halifax Town’s ground seems to reanimate a violent episode from local history, something that threatens everyone. When his mum talks to Seth about his father, who could also see ghosts, Seth finds the courage to do what has to be done. It’s a thrilling story, one that shows how the past still informs everything we do, as well as demonstrating that there’s a superhero in each of us. Number three in a series, it can be read as a stand-alone and, in Barrington Stoke style, has been written so that all readers can enjoy it.
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.
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