Thursday, July 28, 2011

Review - Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

The Eulogy (From the Publishers):

A mysterious island.
An abandoned orphanage.
A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

The Epitaph (In a Nutshell): A YA/Adult crossover novel that starts out strong but gets less so, though is still one of the more original reads I've encountered in a while.

Dearly Departed, 
We are gathered here today to discuss Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. My opinion of this strange book changed quite a few times over the course of reading it. For the first few chapters one question kept coming back to me – is this really Young Adult? At sixteen, the protagonist is the right age, but I didn’t really feel like he was a YA character – perhaps belonging more one of that new breed of book that is YA written for twenty-somethings which I’ve heard called ‘New Adult’.

But as the story progressed, I wasn’t as troubled by this and relaxed into Jacob’s story as he tried to find out more about his grandfather’s childhood and the supposed monsters that hunted him. This was the part that I enjoyed most, where there’s still a certain amount of disbelief at whether or not these monsters are real. I found myself completely unsure of what was true and what wasn’t, which was a very exciting space to inhabit. Towards the end the story lost a bit of its unpredictability and took on a more familiar guise, but was still an excellent read nonetheless. The only thing that disappointed me a bit was finding out that it will be part of a series – don’t get me wrong, I love series fiction, but I felt that this beautifully presented book which was a little beyond the norm would have done well to buck the series trend and exist purely as a standalone.

The photographs in this book could have a review all of their own, and I thought these creepy, staged shots really added to my overall enjoyment of the book. One thing that really bugs me is when an author is describing a specific object but I can’t quite visualise it, so I found the inclusion of the actual photographs that obviously inspired the story to be a brilliant move. Only towards the end did it start to get a little clumsy, sometimes feeling a little bit like, ‘Hey, we haven’t had a photo for a while. Time to stick one in.’

Miss Peregrine’s is a strange little experience which I found genuinely eerie in places, managing to take me completely by surprise. I think the packaging of the book itself is beautiful enough to make most people pick it up, and I think those who do won’t be disappointed. 


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Terrifying Tuesdays


It's that time of week again, where I pick a particularly memorable quote from the book I'm currently reading. This week I've been reading the first two books in David Gatward's excellent new ebook series called Booksurfers. This quote is from the second in the series, Booksurfers: The Wonderful Wizard of OZ.


For a moment she was utterly still. Then she turned her eyes to them, which now looked like soft balls of butter melting down her face. With a final sneer, she said, 'Look out - here I go!'
Then she popped. But it wasn't a pathetic pop, like bubble wrap, but a wet, unimpressed pop, like a huge water balloon hitting its horribly pointy target with bitter disappointment.

Crawlers Competition Winner!

The entries for the Crawler's Competition have been judged and the winner has been decided...

Congratulations Oliver Reid for your story 'Fine'. It is a truly creepy story, which you can listen to being read out by Sam Enthoven himself:


Thanks to all those who entered - both Sam and I were blown away by the quality of the entries which genuinely creeped me out. Well done all, and a super well done to Oliver! You shall be receiving your Crawlers audio book shortly!

If you'd like to check out more about Crawlers and Sam's other brilliant books, check out www.theycrawl.com.

Friday, July 22, 2011

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

News from the world of YA & Kids' Horror in the week ending 22/7/11:

  • Barry Hutchison shares the latest villain from the upcoming fourth instalment in the Invisible Fiends series - behold, Doc Mortis!
 
  • Those who are eager for more Scream Street are in for a treat - author of the series, Tommy Donbavand, has written a short story from the street over at Trapped by Monsters. A usual, Tommy has been busy because he's also released the latest edition of the Terror Times. Check it out over at his blog!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Terrifying Tuesdays

I've decided to start a new horror themed book meme: Terrifying Tuesdays!

Each week I'll put up a quote from a kids' or YA horror book that I've found particularly creepy. Feel free to use my graphic and link back to my blog if you'd also like to take part, and be sure to comment below so I can check it out. Here we go!


There was no moon and no movement in the underbrush but our own, and yet somehow I knew just when to raise my flashlight and just where to aim it, and for an instant in that narrow cut of light I saw a face that seemed to have been transplanted directly from the nightmares of my childhood. It stared back with eyes that swam in dark liquid, furrowed trenches of carbon-black flesh loose on its hunched frame, its mouth hinged open grotesquely so that a mass of long eel-like tongues could wriggle out.
- from Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, p. 33

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Crawlers Competition!

I love gore. I really do. Nothing makes me happier than when a particular scene in a book makes me squirm uncomfortably and make little sick noises. So it’s no surprise that when I first saw the cover of Crawlers by Sam Enthoven, I knew it would be the book for me!
 

I was definitely not disappointed. Aside from an absolutely riveting story about a group of kids trying to survive what should’ve been a simple night out at the theatre, Crawlers has some of the most disgusting creatures out there. I mean, read this:
 
Each spider-thing was about twenty centimetres across. Instead of eight legs though, weirdly, they had five – four long ones on each side of their wide, flattened bodies and only one, a thicker one, on the other. Also, apart from a thin band of red at the joints of each of their legs, they were almost transparent – like jellyfish. The creatures were almost as unpleasant dead as they had been alive. They gave off a faint fishy smell and they were sticky to the touch.’ p. 59

Gross. But the crawlers just get worse:

‘The twitching creature was just centimetres from her face. Its five legs – broken and disjointed but hideously eager – grasped for her. Twin needles of bone, glistening with fluid, flickered in and out from the crawler’s centre mass.’ p 109
I’m pleased to announce that Sam Enthoven has very kindly given Spine Chills a copy of the new Crawlers audio book to give away. Complete and unabridged, the five disc set is brilliantly read by Joe Coen. Check out this audio bite on theycrawl.com. It’s like the crawlers are in my ears!


If you’d like to win this delightfully skin-crawling audio book, you’ll need to brush up on your gore-writing skills. Simply write a short piece (less than 400 words) involving your brush with a crawler – oh, and extra points are given for any gory parts that make me squirm!


Send all entries to hrharkness@gmail.com. The competition is open to anyone in the world, and the winning entry will be read out by Sam Enthoven himself!

This competition closes Friday 15 July, so get crawling!

Friday, July 1, 2011

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

News from the world of YA & Kids' Horror in the week ending 1/7/2011.

July Horror New Releases

These are the horror new releases for July.

What I'm Excited About:
Some excellent reads are being published this month! POD is not your typical horror - it follows the lives to two characters who are dealing with the arrival of strange UFOs in the sky who disappear anybody who sets foot outside. Chilling stuff! Witch Hunter Chronicles is the first in what will almost certainly be a brilliant series from an Australian author, super excited about that! For the younger crowd, Sophie and the Shadow Woods is such a cool series, about a girl who likes judo more than fairies, and finds out she's the Shadow Guardian. Lastly, can't wait to get my hands on Curtis Jobling's next book in the Wereworld series, Rage of Lions.

Junior & Middle 
Sophie and the Shadow Woods 1: The Goblin King, Linda Chapman & Lee Weatherly (Harper).
Night on Terror Island, Philip Caveney (Random).
Death and the Underworld, Anthony Horowitz (Macmillan).
Night of the Werecat, R.L. Stine (Simon & Schuster).





Young Adult
Witch Hunter Chronicles 1: The Scourge of Jericho, Stuart Daly (Random).
POD , Steven Wallenfels (A&U).
Crowfield Demon, Pat Walsh (Scholastic).
Wereworld 2: Rage of Lions, Curtis Jobling (Penguin).
Born at Midnight, C.C. Hunter (Macmillan).
Kill Fish Jones, Caro King (Macmillan).
Changeling 5: Zombie Dawn, Steve Feasey (Macmillan).
The Dead, Charlie Higson [New Format] (Penguin).
Alone: Survivor, James Phelan (Hachette).
Thirteen Days to Midnight, Patrick Carman (Hachette).
Mashups: Blackbeard's Pirates vs. The Evil Mummies, James Black (Hachette).

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