Tag Archives: creepy

Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar

Louis Sachar is an exciting author.  He’s not prolific but when he does publish a book it’s always something to shout about.  My first Louis Sachar book (and probably his most popular) was Holes, the story of Stanley Yelnats and Camp Green Lake.  It totally grabbed me and is still one of my favourite books.  Louis’ last book, The Cardturner, was a fascinating book about bridge and family secrets.  It’s been 5 years since his last book, so I was very excited to hear about Louis Sachar’s new book, Fuzzy Mud.  After reading his previous books and having high expectations I wasn’t disappointed.

Tamaya is on a scholarship to the prestigious Woodridge Academy and every day she and seventh-grader Marshall walk to school together. They never go through the woods. And when they arrive at school they stop talking to each other – because Marshall can’t be seen to be friends with a little kid like Tamaya. Especially not with Chad around. Chad-the-bully, who makes Marshall’s life utterly miserable. But today, hoping to avoid Chad, Marshall and Tamaya decide to go through the woods … And what is waiting there for them is strange, sinister and entirely unexpected. The next day, Chad doesn’t turn up at school – no one knows where he is, not even his family. And Tamaya’s arm is covered in a horribly, burning, itchy wound. As two unlikely heroes set out to rescue their bully, the town is about to be turned upside down by the mysterious Fuzzy Mud.

 

Fuzzy Mud is a weird, thrilling, suspenseful story about friendship, bullies and an experiment gone wrong.  Louis Sachar keeps you on the edge of your seat as the suspense builds right to the end.  It’s slightly creepy and I wasn’t quite sure how it was going to end.   Like each of Louis’ books there are several strands to the story.  What at first seems like just a school story about fitting in and bullies making life hell, soon becomes a quite different story with far worse problems.  The story of Tamaya and Marshall is interspersed by extracts from an inquiry into a place called SunRay Farm, a research facility not far from their school, that was creating an organism that would be used to make a bio-fuel to help save the planet.  These extracts show you that their experiments didn’t quite go as planned.  When Tamaya discovers the fuzzy mud in the forest when she is helping Marshall escape the school bully, the consequences are disastrous.  Could an organism that was designed to help people actually harm or even kill people instead?

The book has got one of the coolest covers I’ve seen recently and it is sure to grab the attention of kids.  The design of the book is very clever too.  I wasn’t quite sure what all the dots at the top of the chapter headings were to start off with but this became clear as I kept reading.  I think it’s kind of quirky and a nice touch.

Fuzzy Mud would be a great read-aloud for kids aged 10 and up.  Not only is it a thrilling story that will keep kids entertained, but it’s also thought-provoking.  What would you do if you found a weird substance in the forest? How would you react if the kid who was bullying you suddenly disappeared?

If you love Louis Sachar or just want a book that will keep you on the edge of your seat, grab a copy of Fuzzy Mud now.

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Darren Shan reads Zom-B Underground

The second book in Darren Shan’s creepy Zom-B series, Zom-B Underground is out now in NZ.  The first book was gory, super-creepy and absolutely fantastic.  I’m excited, but slightly scared, to find out what happens in this next book.  Zom-B Underground is the first of 4 Zom-B books to be released in 2013 so there are plenty more Shan zombies coming our way this year.

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Shiverton Hall by Emerald Fennell

Barry Hutchison, Will Hill, Joseph Delaney and Derek Landy are some of my favourite authors because of the way that they can creep me out, but also having me hanging on every word.  I can now add another author to this list, one with possibly the coolest name around – Emerald Fennell.  With a name like that you’re destined to become an author or an actress, and she’s both.  Her debut novel, Shiverton Hall, is a chilling tale set in a boarding school in England.

Arthur Bannister has been unexpectedly accepted into Shiverton Hall, which, as it turns out, is an incredibly spooky school, full of surprises. And it is just as well that Shiverton Hall has made its offer, because Arthur had a horrible time at his previous school, and was desperate to leave. Timely indeed . . .

But Arthur has no time to worry about the strange coincidence. He is too busy trying to make head or tail of Shiverton Hall, dogged as it is by tales of curses and bad fortune. At least there are a few friendly faces: George, who shows him around; also Penny and Jake. But not all the faces are friendly. There are the bullying Forge triplets for starters. And then there is the acid tongue of the headmistress, Professor Long-Pitt, who seems to go out of her way to make Arthur’s life a misery.

Luckily Arthur has his new friends to cheer him up. Although there are some friends that you don’t want to have at all, as Arthur is soon to find out.

I absolutely loved Shiverton Hall!  It brings together elements of my favourite horror series, Barry Hutchison’s Invisible Fiends and Will Hill’s Department 19, mixes it with a touch of Chris Priestley’s Tales of Terror stories, and sets it in a kind of sinister Hogwarts.  I don’t want to give too much detail in case I spoil the story, but needless to say, if you love Barry Hutchison’s Invisible Fiends books about sinister invisible friends then you will love this story!  I liken the story to Will Hill’s Department 19 and Chris Priestley’s Tales of Terror because Emerald Fennell breaks up the story of the children in the present time with stories about the history of Shiverton Hall.  The grandfather of George (one of the main characters) wrote a book called Accounts of the Supernatural and Preternatural at Shiverton Hall and Its Surrounds, and George tells his friends some of the stories throughout the book, so you find out about what has happened at Shiverton Hall in the past.  These stories of Shiverton Hall’s past are seriously creepy and I was really 0n edge as I was reading them.  Like when you watch a horror movie, I found myself holding my breath, waiting for something to jump out at me.  These historical stories are what made the book so great and I wanted to know even more about the sinister history of Shiverton Hall.

There is plenty of mystery to keep you reading too.  You want to know what is making the students do strange things, why doesn’t the headmistress believe anything they say, and what secret is Arthur keeping hidden?  Emerald keeps you guessing right up to the very end.  Just when you think the worst is over though, she knocks you in the guts and leaves you desperately wanting more.

I sure hope that Emerald is planning to write a sequel as I’m sure Arthur’s story is far from finished.  I’ll be waiting with bated breath.  In the mean time I’ll go and read her Shiverton short story, The Quality Chophouse, for free here.  If you know any young horror fans, Shiverton Hall is a must read, and it’s perfect for primary and secondary school libraries (Year 7 and up).

5 out of 5 stars

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Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Jones

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you’ll know that I love creepy stories of all kinds.  Ghosts, werewolves, zombies, vampires, and other creatures that live in the dark are often featured in the books I love.  I’ve been reading many of the first titles from Hot Key Books (a brilliant new publisher based in the UK) and when I read about Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Jones I had to get my hands on it.  A ghost story set in Victorian London, featuring a boy who could communicate with ghosts, sounded absolutely fantastic!  Constable & Toop was even better than it sounded.

Sam Toop lives in a funeral parlour, blessed (or cursed) with an unusual gift. While his father buries the dead, Sam is haunted by their constant demands for attention. Trouble is afoot on the ‘other side’ – there is a horrible disease that is mysteriously imprisoning ghosts into empty houses in the world of the living. And Sam is caught in the middle – will he be able to bring himself to help?

Constable & Toop is a creepy, gruesome story, with plenty of mystery, and a good dose of wit and humour.  Gareth can have you cringing one moment and laughing the next, which is why I liked the book so much.  He has given us a glimpse inside the ghost world and it’s not what you would expect.  It’s the ghost world and the witty banter between his characters that provide the comic relief of the story.  There is also plenty of throat slitting and stabbing for those who like their ghost stories gruesome.  The story is set in Victorian London and from the first page you are immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of the period.

There are several different threads of the story, following different characters, which Gareth weaves together perfectly.  Gareth shows us the lives of the living and the dead, and the ‘Talkers’ allow them to communicate with each other.  Characters whose lives seem quite separate from each other in the beginning become increasingly intertwined as the story progresses.

The thing I liked the most about Constable and Toop was the way that Gareth portrayed the ghost world.  It’s very bureaucratic, with each ghost having a role, like Enforcer or Prowler, and there are lots of rules and regulations that ghosts must follow.  If they don’t do as they are told they’re labelled Rogues and are hunted down.  There is an incredible amount of paperwork that needs to be filled out to do anything, and you must have a license in order to be a Poltergeist.  In order to go to the physical world and find out what your unfinished business is (so that you can step through the Unseen Door and cross over) you have to apply for a research license.  Lapsewood is my favourite character because he’s a very likeable guy, who just wants to get away from all the paperwork and get some adventure out in the real world (while impressing the girl of his dreams).  He has some of the best lines and has some incredibly strange conversations with his superiors, who can never seem to get his name right.

If you want a ghost story with a difference grab a copy of Constable and Toop by Gareth P. Jones.  I would recommend it for fans of Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant series, Joseph Delaney’s Spook’s Apprentice series, or Barry Hutchison’s Invisible Fiends series.

5 out of 5 stars

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Guest Author: Joseph Delaney’s Top 5 Scariest Creatures in the Spook’s Stories

Joseph Delaney is the author of one of my favourite series, The Spook’s Apprentice.  It’s seriously creepy and full of all sorts of horrible creatures.  As the Spook’s Apprentice, Thomas has to keep the County safe from the evil that lurks in the dark.  The latest book in the series, Spook’s: Slither’s Tale, has just been released, and to celebrate Joseph has joined me today to talk about his Top 5 scariest creatures in the Spook’s stories.

The Haggenbrood

This creature is used in ritual combat to determine the outcome of disputes between citizens of Valkarky (See ‘Slither’).  It has three selves which share a common mind and they are, for all intents and purposes, one creature. It is fast and ferocious with fearsome teeth and claws.

Grimalkin

This is the witch assassin of the Malkin Clan (See ‘The Spook’s Battle’ and also ‘I am Grimalkin’). She is deadly with blades and stores powerful dark magic in the thumb-bones that she cuts from her dead enemies with her snippy scissors in order to wear around her neck.

The Bane

This creature from ‘The Spook’s Curse’ is trapped behind a silver gate in a labyrinth of dark tunnels under Priestown Cathedral. It is a shape-shifter with a terrible power; the Bane is able to press a victim so hard that his blood and bones are smeared into the cobbles.

Golgoth

This ‘Lord of Winter’ from ‘The Spook’s Secret’ has the power to plunge the world into another Ice Age. If summoned from the dark he can freeze you solid and shatter you into pieces like an ice stalactite falling on to a slab of rock.

Morwena

She is the most powerful of the water witches (See The Spook’s Mistake). Fathered by the Fiend, she has a blood-filled eye which is usually closed, the lids fixed together with a sharp thin bone. But anyone she gazes upon with that eye is immediately paralyzed and she is able to drink that victim’s blood at her leisure.

Best wishes,
Joseph Delaney

Get a copy of the latest book in the Spook’s Apprentice series, Slither’s Tale, from your library or bookshop now.

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