Friday, June 24, 2011

Chronicles of the Dead - News in YA & Kids' Horror

News from the world of kids' and YA horror in the week ending 24/6/11:

Friday, June 17, 2011

Chronicles of the Dead - News in YA & Kids' Horror

News from the world of YA and Kids' Horror in the week ending 17/6/11.

    Friday, June 10, 2011

    Chronicles of the Dead - News in YA & Kids' Horror

    News from the world of YA and kids' horror in the week ending 10/6/11.

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    Review - The Crowfield Curse

    The Eulogy (From the Publishers):
    It's 1347 and fifteen-year-old Will, an orphan boy, lives at Crowfield Abbey. Sent into the forest to gather wood, he rescues instead, a creature from a trap - a hob, who shares with Will a terrible secret. Somewhere in the forest behind the abbey where he lives, is a grave. And buried deep in the snow is an angel. But how can an angel die? What has it to do with the monks of the Abbey? When two hooded strangers arrive at Crowfield asking questions about the angel's grave. Will is drawn into a world of dangerous Old Magic. "The Crowfield Feather" was short-listed for the "Times" Chidren's Fiction Competition in 2008. This is a stunning debut novel and the first of a two part series.

    The Epitaph (In a Nutshell): Less about flashy action scenes than chilling atmosphere, this is a wonderfully contemplative book with some truly fascinating concepts.

    Dearly Departed,
    We are gathered here today to discuss The Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh. What a wonderfully atmospheric book this is! I know it seems like a strange point to latch onto first, but the weather in The Crowfield Curse is almost a character in itself - the constant cold that seeps through everything is the perfect recurring theme for this chilling and at times slightly claustrophobic book. The pace is slow and contemplative, which fits the narrative perfectly: the journey does not begin with explosions and a hurried race away from the forces of darkness, but instead starts with the discovery of an otherworldly creature who has little to do with the main conflict other than to provide his charming companionship. I really loved the organic way the plot unfolded which felt perfectly in tune with the life of a boy growing up in an abbey in the middle of nowhere, and I particularly enjoyed the little flourishes of Will's life in the abbey - the less than appetising pottages prepared by the cook, his trips into the forest to feed the pigs, the respite from the cold in the warming room.

    That's not to say this book is without some hair-raising scenes, and indeed, I feel like the horror elements in it are heightened by the quieter scenes, because this has some of the most genuinely creepy concepts I've ever encountered. Without giving too much away, I really enjoyed the distinctive take on a very familiar mythical creature. It reminded me a lot of the beautifully grotesque spirits in the Miyazaki film Princess Mononoke. The menacing fae creatures were wonderfully threatening without ever being overtly so. All in all, The Crowfield Curse is one of the best examples of quiet horror I've ever seen of where less is definitely more.

    Monday, June 6, 2011

    Review - Scream Street 1: Fang of the Vampire

    The Eulogy (From the Publisher):
    In Scream Street, Luke and his parents discover a nightmarish world of the undead. Luke soon makes friends with vampire Resus Negative and mummy Cleo Farr, but he remains determined to take his terrified parents home. After liberating the powerful book Tales of Scream Street from his new landlord, Otto Sneer, Luke learns that the founding fathers of the community each left behind a powerful relic. Collecting together all six is his only hope of opening a doorway out of the street, so with the help of Resus and Cleo he sets out to find the first one, the vampire’s fang. But with Otto Sneer determined to thwart him at every turn, will Luke even get past the first hurdle alive?

    The Epitaph (In a Nutshell): An insanely fun start to what is an excellent comedy horror series for seven and ups.  

    Dearly Departed,
    We are gathered here today to discuss Scream Street 1: Fang of the Vampire by Tommy Donbavand. I always shake my head at people who say they don't like series. Are they crazy? Nothing makes me happier than encountering a new series with an excellent concept and knowing I'll be able to return to it again and again. Scream Street is one such series, about Luke Watson the werewolf, Rhesus Negative the vampire and Cleo Farr the mummy. They all live in Scream Street, home to all kinds of supernatural creatures like surfer zombies and farting goblins.

    I loved this from cover to cover - the excellent characters, the escapades of the three main characters, and really, what's not to love about farting goblins? Scream Street really is the perfect book for kids aged seven and up who like a bit of ghoulish fun, and I can see myself recommending it over and over again. This is one series I'm really happy to have finally started on, and I can't wait to devour the rest of them.

    Friday, June 3, 2011

    Review - Robin Hood vs The Plague Undead

    The Eulogy (From the Publisher): 
     His lungs were gone. He was completely hollow inside. But he was not dead. Not quite. What happens when Robin Hood and his Merry Men are faced with a plague of zombies? Somehow, Robin must figure out a way to defeat the most difficult and dangerous enemy he's ever faced, and save the country from destruction...

    The Epitaph (In a Nutshell): A fantastic idea for a mash-up with some standout characters and some of the grossest gore scenes I've read... which is a very good thing!

    Dearly Departed, 
    We are gathered here today to discuss Robin Hood vs The Plague Undead by James Black.  I know I shouldn't judge books by their cover, but sometimes when I do I am rather pleasantly surprised. I was very guilty of underestimating this book because I felt like the title and cover art placed it in that mass-produced, throwaway category (although I reckon that 11 year olds will love it, and I fear I'm being a bit of a book snob). WELL! I enjoyed Robin Hood vs the Plague Undead heartily. I really do enjoy a good mashup, and since I love both Robin Hood and zombies, I knew this book was going to be for me. 

    The writing was top-notch too, let down only by some editing problems where bits of text were inserted in wrong spots that sometimes made for confusing reading. Some of the gore scenes had me wincing, which is SUCH a good sign because it takes a lot to gross me out. While I did love the portrayals of Robin and his Merry Men, the character who really captured my heart was Mother Maudlin. I hadn't realised she was an actual character in the Robin Hood mythos, and I'm not sure how accurate her portrayal is here, but who cares? She's brilliant! From the pus-dripping pentacle carved into her forehead to her unwholesome beauty, I thought she was really well described and made for an excellent villain to our band of familiar heroes. The only small complaint I have is (WARNING: spoiler ahead, highlight to read) the somewhat happy ending - I really wanted to see a zombie Robin Hood, and I felt it all got wrapped up a bit too neatly. Still, I'm eagerly awaiting the next in this series, Blackbeard's Pirates vs the Evil Mummies.


    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    Chronicles of the Dead - News in YA & Kids' Horror

    News from the week ending 3/6/11.
    • There's an excellent interview with Darren Shan on Inis Magazine's website. Lots of great questions that offer some insight into one of YA horror's best and most prolific authors.
    • Sarwat Chadda makes me think there's hope for me yet by blogging about downsizing his book collection. As a chronic book hoarder with no less than five full size book cases crammed with books, I found myself alternatively cheering and wincing at Sarwat's bold book culling. Interesting stuff!
    • Barry Hutchison's Zombie Diary is into its 11th day and each entry is more chilling than the last. This is such an amazing idea, and seeing the spread of the Zombie Apocalypse via these diary entries makes for excellent reading.
    • Ever wonder how a book trailer is made? This article from Indie Horror is a fascinating and in-depth look at the process of creating the book trailer for Peter Labrow's book The Well.
    • The eleventh book in the Scream Street series is almost here! It's released in the UK on 7 July, but in the meantime, check out the excellent cover on Tommy Donbavand's website.
    • It's times like these that I get really frustrated I don't live in the UK - Sam Enthoven, Stephen Deas, Steve Feasey and William Hussey will be teaming up to do an event this Friday the 3rd for the Stoke Newington Literary Festival and it takes place IN A GRAVEYARD! Green with envy (or that could just be the decaying zombie flesh). Check out the details over at Sam Enthoven's website.
    • William Hussey has a brand new website, and to celebrate the launch he's got a swag of goods to give away as part of a competition. Head on over for the details on how to enter!

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    June Horror New Releases

    These are the horror new releases for June.
    What I'm Excited About: Okay, what I'm really excited about this month are the Star League series because... (drumroll) IT'S ME! That's right, I also go by the name H.J. Harper, and since these are my first books, I hope you can allow me a little glowing pride.

    Ahem, favouritism aside, there are a lot of great titles out this month, but in particular I'm looking forward to The Damned, Scream Street 11, Undead Ed, Zombie Chasers and Long Lankin.

    Junior & Middle
    Star League 1: Lights, Camera, Action Hero! H.J. Harper (Random).
    Star League 2: Curse of the Werewolf, H.J. Harper (Random).
    Star League 3: Raising the Dead, H.J. Harper (Random).
    Star League 4: The Ninja Code, H.J. Harper (Random).
    An Awfully Beastly Business: Bang Goes a Troll, The Beastly Boys (Simon & Schuster).
    School of Night 2: Creeping Storm, Justin Richards (Allen & Unwin). 
    Zombie Chasers, John Kloepfer (Harper).
    Jim Springman 2: Springman Brothers Reality Repair, Joshua Wright (Scholastic).
    Grim & Grimmer 4: The Calamitous Queen, Ian Irvine (Scholastic).
    Goosebumps: Hall of Horrors, R.L. Stine (Scholastic).
    Ghosts of the Titanic, Julie Lawson (Scholastic).
    Creepy Creatures: Bat Attack, Ed Graves (Scholastic).
    Scream Street 11: Hunger of the Yeti, Tommy Donbavand (Walker).
    Dragonbreath 4: Lair of the Bat Monster, Ursula Vernon (Penguin).
    My Sister the Vampire 5: Take Two, Sienna Mercer (Hardie Grant Egmont).
    My Sister the Vampire 6: Love Bites, Sienna Mercer (Hardie Grant Egmont).
    Kitty Slade 1: Divine Freaks, Fiona Dunbar (Hachette).
    Undead Ed and the Howling Moon, David Grimstone (Hachette).
    A Spindlewood Tale 2: Pip and the Twilight Seekers, Chris Mould (Hachette).

    Young Adult

    The Cursed Ones, Nancy Holder (Simon & Schuster).
    Darkness Becomes Her, Kelly Keaton (Simon & Schuster).
    Long Lankin, Nancy Barraclough (Random).
    Blood Ninja 2, Nick Lake (Allen & Unwin).
    Armies of Death, Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson (Allen & Unwin).
    Appointment with F.E.A.R., Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson (Allen & Unwin).
    Hunting Ground, Cliff McNish (Hachette).
    The Damned, David Gatward (Hachette).

    If I’ve missed something out, let me know in the comments! But remember, these are Australian release dates only.