Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Shiverton Hall Review

The Eulogy (From the Publisher): 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.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Best Reads: Spook's Apprentice

As a children's bookseller, I get asked a lot for horror recommendations, but what I find most of the time is that it's not the readers themselves doing the asking, it's their parents/aunts/uncles/grandparents. They know their kids like horror, but since most of it can't stand it themselves, they don't know where to start.

So over the next few weeks I thought I'd present five of my favourite books that any parent can confidently give their horror fan, knowing that they'll devour it.

NB: These recommendations won't come in any order, they're all as brilliant as each other.

Wardstone Chronicles: The Spook’s Apprentice by Joseph Delaney

What's it About?
Thomas Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son, which makes him Spook material. The problem is, Tom isn't convinced he wants to be a Spook – after all, a Spook’s role is to roam the county, ridding it of dark creatures like witches, boggarts and even the devil himself. Can Tom complete his training as an apprentice and become the best Spook the county has ever seen? Or will he be won over by the dark side?

And in a Nutshell?
Dark fantasy, brilliant world-building, the horror comes from build-up and scary monsters rather than gore, long series, books start off youngish (perhaps 10/11+) and get older, movie Seventh Son coming in 2013.

Why is it a Best Read?
As of writing this, there are ten books in the Wardstone Chronicles main storyline, two books of short stories, two standalone tales that also tie in with the main one, and one bestiary. As a body of work, it is absolutely my favourite series – this is dark fantasy at its very best. The series has some of the most memorable characters, both heroes and villains (who are sometimes both). Not only that, but the various plots just grow stronger with each book, and the creatures of the dark become more terrifying.

The Wardstone Chronicles is a very chilling horror series for readers 10/11+ (though I believe the target audience is older in subsequent books). I’d highly recommend it to readers who are just getting into horror, as the first few books aren’t quite as scary as the later ones, and there is very little gore. Most of the horror relies on worldbuilding and creating a great atmosphere.

Buy It
My Review
Spook's Website

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Spook's - Slither's Tale Review

The Eulogy (From the Publisher):
Slither is not human. Far from the Spook-protected County, he preys upon humans, sneaking into their homes to gorge upon their blood while they sleep.

When a local farmer dies, it's only natural that Slither should want to feast on his lovely daughters. But the farmer has offered him a trade: in return for taking the younger girls to safety, Slither can have the eldest daughter, Nessa, to do with as he wishes . . .

Slither's promise takes him and Nessa on a treacherous journey where enemies await at every turn. Enemies that include Grimalkin, the terrifying witch assassin, still searching for a way to destroy the Fiend for good.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

What's All This?

Some of you might be surprised to find that Spinechills looks a little different. After a rather extended absence, I've decided to give it a bit of a facelift and to add a few new features: over the coming weeks I'll add some Best Reads lists and some Writing Tips.

I've decided to dust off the cobwebs to make it more in line with my HJ Harper blog - for all three of you who don't know, I also write children's books under another name, though since they weren't horror I'd decided to keep both worlds separate. But as I'm preparing to write horror books for kids, I thought it was time for these worlds to collide!

Please let me know what you think about the changes, and stay tuned for more Spinechills!