When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in . . .For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions.
Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest, most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.
Set in a city stalked by spectres, The Screaming Staircase is the first in a chilling new series full of suspense, humour and truly terrifying ghosts. Your nights will never be the same again.
Category Archives: mystery
Chris Coloumbus is the writer and director of some of my favourite movies, including Gremlins, The Goonies and Home Alone. He’s a gifted storyteller for the screen who has now delved into the world of children’s books. His first children’s book is House of Secrets, co-written by Ned Vizzini, and I was interested to see if his books were just as good as his movies.
A secret history… A mysterious family legacy… Dark magic of untold power… And three kids who will risk everything to bring a family back together. The Pagett kids had it all: loving parents, a big house in San Francisco, all the latest video games … But everything changed when their father lost his job as a result of an inexplicable transgression. Now the family is moving into Kristoff House, a mysterious place built nearly a century earlier by a troubled fantasy writer with a penchant for the occult. Suddenly the siblings find themselves launched on an epic journey into a mash-up world born of Kristoff’s dangerous imagination, to retrieve a dark book of untold power, uncover the Pagett family’s secret history and save their parents … and maybe even the world.
House of Secrets is an action-packed blockbuster of a book about three children who are transported into the world of fiction. There’s something in this story to appeal to all kids – adventure, mystery, magic, witches, giants, warriors, pirates, and fictional characters coming to life. Most readers have wanted to actually be in the world of a story at some stage, and this is exactly what happens to Cordelia, Brendan and Eleanor (even if it was the last thing they wanted).
Chris and Ned have said that the story was originally going to be a screenplay for a movie, but they thought it would be too expensive to make so they adapted it into a book. I thought this came through quite clearly as the story really reads like it should be a movie. It’s quite fast-paced and there is lots of action so it will definitely keep kids’ attention. I can see why it would have cost so much to make this story into a movie, because it’s quite epic and there would be huge special effects involved. The house that the children find themselves transported in is much like the Tardis (‘it’s bigger on the inside’), with lots of hidden passageways, and it gets battered about by witches, giants and pirates. There are many different fictional worlds, filled with different creatures and characters.
Although I loved the story and the way the authors kept the action moving along, I found the children quite stereotypical and a bit flat. Within the first 10 pages you’ve had a detailed description of what the three children look like and how old they are, which just seemed a little bit forced to me. I guess it’s probably a movie thing and they’re trying to give us a picture of the characters, but you don’t need to know everything about a character within the first few minutes.
The plot races along right to the end and leaves the story hanging for the next book in the series. I’ll be looking forward to discovering what comes next for the Walker children.
One of my favourite genres of stories for children and teens is horror. There weren’t many of these types of book around when I was younger, but there is plenty to choose from these days, from Derek Landy and Joseph Delaney, to Darren Shan and Barry Hutchison. Chris Priestley is an author of spooky, chilling and creepy stories that I’ve been reading more of lately and his latest book, Through Dead Eyes is a new favourite.
Alex joins his father on a business trip to Amsterdam. During the day he hangs out with the daughter of a family friend. They visit the usual sights but also coffee shops and flea markets off the beaten track. At one of these markets Alex spots an ancient-looking mask. Before he knows what he’s doing he buys it. Later, in his hotel room, he feels compelled to put the mask on. Alex is sucked into a parallel Amsterdam, one from centuries before which begins to reveal the dark past of both the building he is staying in and the little girl who once lived there edging stealthily towards the terrible twist.
Through Dead Eyes is a chilling ghost story that haunts you long after you’ve turned the last page. I read it on a wet and dreary day which added to the chilling tone. Chris Priestley really knows how to keep the reader on edge throughout the story. The thing I love the most about Chris’s writing is that there are lots of twists that you don’t see coming, especially towards the end of the story, and he leaves you with a feeling of unease. You know that, even though the story has finished, things are not right in the life of the characters. Like any good ghost story you get pieces of the puzzle as the story progresses and you’ve got to figure out how they all fit together. You just hope that the main character solves the puzzle before it’s too late.
The setting of Amsterdam adds to the eerie feeling of the story, because Alex is surrounded by so much history. The buildings are hundreds of years old and they would hold many stories. Alex is drawn to the history of the hotel he is staying in and the strange feelings he has inside his room. This history and the connection between the mask and the paintings draw you in to the story.
The cover is fantastic and captures the tone of the story perfectly. It was the cover, with the mottled and cracked surface, and the creepy eye, that grabbed my attention and made me pick it up.
Through Dead Eyes is great for readers aged 11+ who like to give themselves a good scare.
W.A.R.P. (Witness Anonymous Relocation Programme) is Eoin Colfer’s new series. The Reluctant Assassin is the first book in the series and is released later this month by Penguin Books NZ. It sounds like it’s going to be a great series and perfect for fans of his Artemis Fowl series.