Category Archives: horror

Skulduggery Pleasant: Resurrection by Derek Landy

I’ve stuck with Skulduggery and Valkyrie through all their battles, near-death experiences and the countless times they have saved the world.  Like many Skulduggery fans I thought I’d seen the last of these characters that I had come to love, but Derek Landy is always full of surprises.  He has brought Skulduggery and Valkyrie back again, with new characters to welcome as friends.  Resurrection is the latest book in the series and I was so excited to return to this world and these characters that Derek created.

y648A lot has changed. Roarhaven is now a magical city, where sorcerers can live openly. Valkyrie Cain has been out of action for years, recovering from the war against her alter-ego Darquesse, which nearly destroyed her and everyone else.

Some things never change though: bad people still want to do bad things, and Skulduggery Pleasant is still there to stop them.

When Skulduggery learns of a plot to resurrect a terrifying evil, he persuades Valkyrie to join him for just 24 hours. But they need someone else on their team, someone inconspicuous, someone who can go undercover.

Enter Omen Darkly. Student at the new Corrival Academy. Overlooked. Unremarkable in every way.

24 hours to save the world. One sharply-dressed skeleton. One grief-stricken young woman. One teenage boy who can’t remember which class he’s supposed to be in.

This cannot end well.

Resurrection is a return to classic Skulduggery Pleasant.  All the things that I loved about the early books are here in Resurrection – the witty banter, great villains and humour.  The humour especially was lacking in the last few books because of the whole end of the world thing that was happening.  The relationship between Skulduggery and Valkyrie is never going to be the same as what it was at the start of the series but you can see their relationship strengthening again.  Resurrection is a return to the good old days of Skulduggery and Valkyrie, even though so much has changed in their world.

Valkyrie has been out of Ireland for 5 years, hiding away in a cabin in the wilds of America.  She had a lot to deal with after Darquesse took her over and she killed hundreds of people in Roarhaven.  At the start of the book she has moved back to Ireland and is living in Uncle Gordon’s old house.  As she is settling in her old pal Skulduggery turns up and asks her to come back into the fold and join him, just for 24 hours.  Valkyrie doesn’t feel that she is ready, mentally or physically, to be back doing Sanctuary business again but she reluctantly agrees.  It’s not long before she finds herself back in trouble again, with people who want to hurt and kill her.  Into the picture comes Omen Darkly, the brother of The Chosen One, Auger Darkly.  Omen is a kid who fades into the background, not just at school but also at home, as his parents give all their attention to Auger.  When Omen gets the chance to join his idols, Skulduggery and Valkyrie, he thinks all his dreams have come true.  Omen soon finds himself deep in trouble with some very bad people and it’s up to Valkyrie to get him out safely.  After a run in with a nasty piece of work called Smoke, Skulduggery has been corrupted and will do anything he can to kill Valkyrie.  This is one action-packed story!

I really enjoyed this introduction of Omen Darkly. He is going to play an important part in the coming books and you know that he will grow up fast, just as Valkyrie had to do.  A lot of my favourite characters from the series have been killed off but I’m sure there will be some great new characters to come.

Resurrection made me want to go right back to the start of the series and enjoy them all over again.  I feel like you would still have to have read the other books in the series to fully understand what is happening in Resurrection.  I’ll certainly be promoting the first few books in my library.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under books, children's fiction, children's horror, horror

Desolation by Derek Landy

In the first book of his Demon Road Trilogy Derek Landy took us to a darker place than the world of Skulduggery Pleasant.  This was a world of demons, serial killers, vampires and witches and set on a completely different continent, America.  We met our new heroine, Amber, her mysterious companion/bodyguard Milo, and plenty of other creepy individuals.  Derek left us with a sense of foreboding, with a promise that something really bad was coming.  Desolation drops you right back into the action.

y450-293

Reeling from their bloody encounter in New York City at the end of Demon Road, Amber and Milo flee north. On their trail are the Hounds of Hell – five demonic bikers who will stop at nothing to drag their quarries back to their unholy master.Amber and Milo’s only hope lies within Desolation Hill – a small town with a big secret; a town with a darkness to it, where evil seeps through the very floorboards. Until, on one night every year, it spills over onto the streets and all hell breaks loose. And that night is coming.

Desolation is a darker, bloodier and more violent follow-up to Demon Road.  Throats get ripped out, heads roll, demons get eaten, and there are some incredible fight scenes.  Overall I enjoyed this sequel but there were times that I felt the story lagged.  It’s a big book that maybe could have been a little shorter to help the story move faster.  Unlike the first book, where Amber and Milo were on the run the whole time, the action of Desolation is focused in a strange little town in Alaska called Desolation Hill.  Amber is being chased by the Hounds of Hell and she has been told that she will be safe from the Hounds in Desolation Hill.  Amber and Milo get to their destination and what they have been told is correct – the Hounds are kept out of Desolation Hill by an invisible barrier.  Their main problem now though is that the people of Desolation Hill don’t want them there and try everything to get them to leave.  Something weird is going on in this town and it’s up to Amber and Milo to find out what.  Things go from bad to worse, and just when you think it can’t get any worse Amber’s family turns up.

There are several strands to the story that all eventually come together.  Of course, we follow Amber and Milo, but we also meet Virgil and Javier (two old TV stars who live in Desolation Hill and want to relive their glory days), and Ronnie, Kelly, Linda, Warrick and Two (a group of teens and their do who travel the Dark Highway to fight monsters).  Ronnie and the gang travel the Dark Highway in their van and I thought of them as the Scooby Doo gang traveling in the Mystery Machine.  You wonder which of these characters are going to make it to the end of the book alive.  There are demons everyone so you just don’t know.

I think the one thing I missed while reading Desolation was Derek Landy’s humour.  Sure, it’s a dark story and people are being killed left, right and centre, but there is always room for Derek’s humour.  There are some funny parts that made me laugh, usually involving bumbling, idiotic serial killers.  My favourite part involved the interactions of four serial killers when they had trapped Ronnie and the gang.

Although I didn’t enjoy Desolation as much as Demon Road I’m still looking forward to finding out how it all ends.  The end of Desolation leaves you with plenty of questions which I need to know the answers to.  The final book in the trilogy, American Monsters, is released on 25 August.

Leave a comment

Filed under books, horror, young adult, young adult fiction

Seriously Spooky Month: Interview with Derek Landy

Derek Landy is the author of the Skulduggery Pleasant series and the new Demon Road series.  He is one of my absolute favourite authors and I have loved everything that he has read.  I got the chance to meet him and interview him back in 2010 when he was part way through the Skulduggery Pleasant series (you can read the interview here).  Since he has started a new series I wanted to ask him a few questions about it and get the scoop on Demon Road.  Read my interview with Derek to find out how many Demon Road books we have to look forward to, what Derek’s favourite supernatural being is, and why Derek loves horror stories.

740f7-demonroad

  • How did it feel starting a new series after you had been living in Skulduggery’s world for so long?

Scary, daunting, but also thrilling and refreshing. I was fully at home writing Skulduggery, and possibly too comfortable. That’s not always a good thing for a writer, so a new challenge was needed to stop things from getting stale.

  • Why did you choose to set your new series in America?

The idea of a roadtrip pretty much dictated where it was going to be set. I tried setting it in Ireland, but you can’t really have a roadtrip here. In America, you can drive for weeks without seeing anyone. In Ireland, every five minutes you’d be passing through some small town somewhere…

  • How many books are you planning on writing in the Demon Road series?

Three. There was no way I was committing to a nine book series like I did with Skulduggery!

  • What is your favourite supernatural being?

Vampires are endlessly fun. You can adapt them to fit whatever you need them to be. Dracula had them scary, Anne Rice had them romantic, Buffy had them cool, and Twilight had them sparkly. Er…

  • There are some really gory scenes in Demon Road.  Are these your favourite parts to write?

Gory scenes are definitely fun…! And it’s always an interesting exercise to see how far I can push things before my editor picks up the phone…

  • Out of all of your characters which one are you most like?

I’d like to think I’m like Skulduggery — cool, charming, and awesome. But the truth is I’m probably a mixture of Glen and, I dunno… Scapegrace.

  • Do you see your two series crossing over?  Will Skulduggery characters make an appearance on the Demon Road?

That was a temptation that I ultimately decided against. I wanted people to be able to pick up Demon Road without needing to know the rules of magic as set down in Skulduggery. Plus my vampires in both series are completely different, and I didn’t want to confuse people.

  • Why do you love horror stories?

I’ve always loved horror, since I was a kid. We love to be scared. Being scared is entertainment — provided you get to walk out of the theatre afterwards, or close the book, or turn off the TV. We love horror because it tests us within a safe environment. I doubt I’d love it so much if these things were really happening to me…

  • What other books would you recommend to kids and teens who love your books?

These days I’m recommending ‘The Rest of Us Just Live Here’ by Patrick Ness to everyone, as well as the Shattered Sea trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. Loved them both.

Demon Road by Derek Landy is out now.  Go and grab a copy from your library or bookshop now.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under author interview, authors, books, horror, Interview, spooky, young adult, young adult fiction

13 Days of Midnight by Leo Hunt

When I was a kid there weren’t many books about ghosts available for my age.  As a 12/13 year old I wasn’t ready for Stephen King and there weren’t many other scary books to choose from.  Thankfully there are more and more ghost stories for kids and teens being published and it’s always good to read a different and exciting take on ghosts.  Leo Hunt gives readers a good helping of ghosts in his new book, 13 Days of Midnight, about Luke and the 8 murderous ghosts he inherits.

Sixteen year old Luke Manchett has a pretty ordinary life living in a small northern town with his Mum. Until one day, a letter informs him that his celebrity ghost-hunter Dad is dead and Luke is the sole heir. But this is no ordinary inheritance – Luke finds himself in charge of eight horrendous ghosts, his Host, with his life and that of his Mum, loyal dog Ham and new friend Elza all in terrible danger. It’s up to Luke to open the Book of Eight and find a way to stop the Host destroying everything at Hallowe’en. Even if it means stepping into Darkside…

13 Days of Midnight is a deliciously dark, creepy read that will make you want to keep the light on at night.  It’s a genuinely scary story that creeped me out in several places. Much like making a deal with the Devil, you don’t get quite what you expected with this book.  Just when you think the story is taking off in one direction Leo pulls you in a completely different direction and he certainly keeps you on your toes.

Leo introduces us to some seriously creepy ghosts in 13 Days of Midnight!  Luke inherits his Host of eight ghosts from his father – the Vassal, the Shepherd, the Judge, the Heretic, the Fury, the Oracle, the Prisoner and the Innocent.  As Luke has just inherited them he doesn’t know how to control them, so they are trying to break free.  They’re violent and unpredictable, and even though they can’t kill Luke, they find other ways to hurt him and the ones he loves.  There were moments in the book when each of them sent a shiver down my spine but I think the one that scared me the most was the Prisoner with his shears.

The splatter on the front cover boldly claims that ‘If you like Skulduggery Pleasant read this!’ and I totally agree with this.  Leo has a great mix of spookiness and humour that will appeal to fans of Derek Landy.  Whether you are looking for the book to fill the whole that the Skulduggery series has left behind or you just want a really good scare grab a copy of 13 Days of Midnight now.  Leo leaves us with a sense of impending doom at the end of the book.  You know that something big and scary is coming, but what that is I have no idea.  I can’t wait for the sequel, 8 Rivers of Shadow coming in 2016!

Leave a comment

Filed under ghosts, horror, Seriously Spooky Month, Seriously Spooky Month 2015, young adult, young adult fiction

Seriously Spooky Month: Guest Post – Gareth P. Jones

As part of my Seriously Spooky Month I asked some of my favourite spooky authors to write a guest post for My Best Friends Are Books.  Today I’m joined by Gareth P. Jones, author of my favourite funny book about ghosts, Constable and Toop, and the forthcoming Death and Ice Cream.  Gareth talks about why he loves writing about death.  Thanks for joining me Gareth!

“Honestly, Gareth, why do you have to write about death?”

My new novel (published by Hotkey Books) comes out January 2016, and I already know that my mum won’t like it because of its title. It is called Death or Ice Cream?

“Why can’t you write a nice book like Little Women?” she says.

“I think because I was born a hundred years too late,” I reply. “Also, I’ve not read it but I have seen that episode of Friends about it and I’m pretty sure someone does die in it. Beth possibly?”

“Black Beauty then.”

“I’m not massively keen on horses.”

My mum’s real question is: “Why do you have to write about death?”

Firstly, I should explain that I don’t only write about death. I have three series of books (Ninja Meerkats, The Dragon Detective Agency and The Adventures of the Steampunk Pirates) in which the vast majority of the characters make it to the end. I have also written the text for two picture books, (The Dinosaurs are Having a Party and Are You the Pirate Captain?) which are very light on the subject of mortality.

But when it comes to writing my standalone novels, I am often drawn to the subject of death. The Thornthwaite Inheritance is about a pair of twins trying to kill each other, The Considine Curse begins with a funeral, and Constable & Toop is a Victorian ghost story named after a real undertakers.

It was the real Constable and Toop that sparked the idea for my new book, Death or Ice Cream? I follow them on Twitter (sure, why wouldn’t an undertakers have a twitter account?) and they put up a link to an article called 500 Ways To Say Dead about all the euphemisms we use for dying (kick the bucket, push up the daisies, fall asleep, bite the bullet, pop your clogs etc.) It got me thinking about why we have such a long list of ways to express the one thing that will definitely affect us all. The answer is that death is something we are scared of so we use language to soften its impact. We try to make it sound funnier, gentler… more temporary. But, if Dumbledore has taught us nothing else, it is that fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself.

“Yes, Gareth.” This is my mum again. “But you write children’s books. Why can’t you be more like that nice Beatrix Potter or Enid Blyton?”

Over the nine years I have been a published author, I have visited hundreds of schools and met thousands of children. I have observed that these children have not yet learned to fear death but they are fascinated by it. And literature allows us to consider subjects in a way that is engaging, satisfying and, above all else, entertaining. So whether it’s war, religion, prejudice, sex or death, books help us explore these tricky subjects in a unique – and rather wonderful – way.

Anyway, my new book isn’t just about death. My favourite thing about being a children’s author (rather than – say – a crime writer or a purveyor of historical fiction) is the freedom to employ different genres and draw upon a variety of influences to tell my stories. As my publishers will tell you, Death or Ice Cream? is a difficult book to describe but I’ll have a go anyway. Death or Ice Cream? is a selection of dark morality tales, closely interwoven and all set in the same fictional town of Larkin Mills. While the characters change from story to story, the book has an underlying theme about the duality of the daily choices we are forced to make. Let me try that again. It’s about god and the devil and why religion forces us to make a choice between them. It’s also about domestic sharks, concrete sculptures, dodgem cars, corrupt politicians, evil doctors, the Roman empire, the dangers of archeology, zombies, the art of making television, alien landings, death and ice cream.

Oh and if you’re thinking that the question Death or Ice Cream? is a no-brainer, then I should point out that it is not really a choice at all.

After all, you can choose never to have an ice cream.

Cover illustration by Adam Stower

Cover illustration by Adam Stower

Death or Ice Cream? is published January 2016 by Hot Key books.

You can read my review of Gareth’s Constable and Toop here on the blog.

Leave a comment

Filed under authors, children's horror, ghosts, Guest Post, horror, Seriously Spooky Month, Seriously Spooky Month 2015

Win a copy of Demon Road by Derek Landy

Demon Road is Derek Landy’s latest book and one of my recent favourites.  It’s a deliciously dark, gory, witty, totally gripping book that will make you cringe one minute and laugh out loud the next.  You can read my review here on the blog.

740f7-demonroad

Thanks to HarperCollins NZ I have 3 copies of Demon Road to give away.  To get in the draw all you have to do is email bestfriendsrbooks@gmail.com with the subject ‘Demon Road,’ along with your name and address.  I will draw 3 winners at random.  Competition closes Thursday 1 October (NZ only).

Leave a comment

Filed under competition, horror, young adult fiction

Beware – Seriously Spooky Month is here!

I love spooky books for kids and teens!  If it’s got ghosts, witches, vampires (non-sparkly ones), zombies or anything supernatural I’ll read it.  So I’ve decided to dedicate a whole month to spooky stories.

Throughout Seriously Spooky Month in October I’m highlighting my favourite spooky and scary books for kids of all ages, from picture books right through to YA.  I’m also very excited to have some wonderful guest posts from authors and illustrators who create spooky books for kids, including Barry Hutchison, Chris Priestly, Gareth P. Jones, R.L. Stedman, Sue Copsey and James Foley.

Scare your socks off this October and join me for some Seriously Spooky reads!

Leave a comment

Filed under children's horror, ghosts, horror, Seriously Spooky Month, young adult

Demon Road by Derek Landy

Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant series is my all-time favourite series.  I love the wit, the humour, the characters and the supernatural spookiness.  It was sad to say goodbye to the characters that I loved and the world that Derek had created but I was excited to see what Derek would write next.  Derek announced his new Demon Road series a while ago and I’ve been champing at the bit to get my hands on a copy.  The wonderful people at HarperCollins NZ sent me an early copy and I gobbled it up.  Demon Road doesn’t disappoint and it’s every bit as wonderful as Derek’s Skulduggery series.

Amber Lamont is a normal sixteen-year-old. Smart but insecure, she spends most of her time online, where she can avoid her beautiful, aloof parents and their weird friends.

But when a shocking encounter reveals a horrifying secret, Amber is forced to go on the run. Killer cars, vampires, undead serial killers and red-skinned, horned demons – Amber hurtles from one threat to the next, revealing the terror woven into the very fabric of her life. As her parents close in behind her, Amber’s only chance rests with her fellow travellers, who are not at all what they appear to be.

Demon Road is a deliciously dark, gory, witty, totally gripping book that will make you cringe one minute and laugh out loud the next.  I absolutely loved this book and I couldn’t have imagined a more worthy successor to Skulduggery Pleasant!  It is a completely new story but you can imagine it existing in Skulduggery’s world.  Derek’s wit and brilliant dialogue are still here.  Some of the conversations between his characters are hilarious!

Derek takes readers down an even darker path (or road) than his previous books. I love the darkness of the story and I wanted to keep reading to see what sort of monsters the characters would meet next. There are some seriously shady characters in this book and people get killed in increasingly gruesome ways.  Derek’s gory descriptions are superb and really make you cringe.  He has a real gift for gore and death scenes.  I personally think Demon Road is aimed at an older audience than the Skulduggery series, so consider this if you are buying it for a school library.

One of my favourite things about Derek’s books has always been his characters.  While the names of the characters don’t stand out as much in Demon Road, Derek has created some very memorable and interesting characters.  There is Milo (Amber’s chauffeur and bodyguard with a mysterious past), Glen (the weirdo from Ireland whose days are numbered),with some witches, vampires and undead serial killers thrown in for good measure.  My absolute favourite character is Glen, who always seems to say the wrong thing at the wrong time and just has the worst luck.  It’s Glen who provides some of the funniest moments in Demon Road.  The main character, Amber, isn’t too far removed from Stephanie in the Skulduggery series.  She’s tough and can kick butt when she needs to, and she really grew on me as I followed her journey.

Readers who are already fans of Derek Landy will love Demon Road, but this book is certain to introduce a new legion of fans to his writing.  I want to put Demon Road in to the hands of as many adult horror fans as I can as well, because I’m sure they’ll find something to love in this book too.

Thank you Derek Landy for giving your loyal fans a new series to get obsessed with!  I certainly can’t wait to read the next book when it’s released early next year.

Leave a comment

Filed under horror, young adult, young adult fiction

Derek Landy introduces Demon Road + Demon Road Book Trailer

The countdown to the release of Derek Landy’s new book is on, with Demon Road being released on Thursday!  I’m reading it the moment and IT. IS. EPIC!  Whether or not you’re a Derek Landy fan you will be blown away.

You can enter the draw to win Demon Road button badges and Demon Road Maps here on the blog too.

Check out these videos of Derek Landy introducing Demon Road and the brand-spanking new book trailer.

Leave a comment

Filed under author interview, book trailer, horror

Derek Landy’s Demon Road Teaser

Check out this very short video of the animated cover of Derek Landy’s new book, Demon Road.  Demon Road is released here in NZ on September 1, so not long to wait now!

Keep an eye out on the blog for a Derek Landy competition coming next week.

Leave a comment

Filed under book trailer, children's fiction, horror