Friday, February 19, 2010
A Horror-fest. How Delicious
I've been lucky enough recently to have read these three cracking horror titles, aimed at kids. Two have just been published, and one is out in a few weeks time. The copies you see are proofs, and the finished book covers are even better than the ones here.
The First book is Invisible Fiends : Mr Mumbles by Barry Hutchison. Mr Mumbles was Kyle's imaginary friend when he was younger. Ahh, Mr Mumbles, with his floppy hat and coat and his jolly dance.
But Kyle's grown up now and no longer needs Mr Mumbles. But Mr Mumbles is back, and he's not so jolly any more. In fact he has every intention of killing Kyle.... Oh yes, did I mention that Mr Mumbles is called Mr Mumbles because he can't talk. The reason? His mouth is sewn together.
There's an brilliant back story involving Kyle's father, and there's also a kick ass goth sidekick called Ameena. I love the way there always seems to be less than a sliver of hope at the end of each chapter and then somehow...somehow something happens that means you can breathe again. The pace of the the book is furious and the author has clearly left lots of unanswered questions, so that it leaves the reader desparate for the next in the series. Excellent stuff.
The Next book is Witchfinder by William Hussey and is the first in a trilogy that's due to be published over the next year.
OK how's this for an opening gambit. Within the first 4 pages a child has his throat cut and by the time you've just caught your breath someone else (who I thought was going to be a major character) is decapitated.
This is a battle betwen good and evil that's been raging for centuries, and it seems that theres only one person, Jake, who can save earth from the apocalypse that's known simply as Demontide. Previously in order to stop this, a child had to be sacrificed and their blood smeared around the seal of a hidden doorway inside a cave. Jake's not too keen to be that child as i'm sure you'll undersatnd. William's ability to imagine such wild charactrers is praiseworthy indeed. Throughout the book you're never quite sure who's good and who's evil and at any minute you get the feeling someone could sabotage all of Jake's efforts to keep the demons at bay. I don't even want to think about the 'Cabinet'. Once again, the pace is electric and i'm already looking forward to part 2 (out in September).
Thirdly is Crawlers by Sam Enthoven.
Two groups of schoolkids on a trip to the Barbican to see a Shakespeare play are 'interupted' when gross blobs with octopus like tendrils fall from the ceiling of the theatre and start attaching themselves to members of the audience (not audiences members, this is a kids book), giving these creatures complete control over the human it's attached to. These are merely foot soldiers to a monster more deadly and dangerous than you can begin to imagine. Four girls and four boys manage to barricade themselves into a room before the 'crawlers' manage to attach onto them , and from here follows a desparate fight for survival. Throughout this book, which reads like a video game (or PSP game or whatever), there's the cleverly described rivalry between the boys for the well to do rich school and the girls from the less well off comprehensive, and some brilliant twists and turns which means you never quite know what's going to happen next. Why the Barbican? Where are all these creatures from? Is Tim growing his beard again? If you want to know the answers to these questions, apart from the third one, then you'll have to read the book. Which I sincerely hope you will.
So murders, creatures from your worst nighmares, zombies and hideous monsters who will (and maybe do) destroy the planet.
None of these authors are parsimonious in their descriptions of blood and guts nastiness that seems to happen in each of the books, and if parents or teachers are worried about letting their little dears read stuff like this, then I think they should reconsider. The writing is superb, the authors encourage us to use our imaginations and clearly don't underestimate their audience. Kids will be able to relate to the 'heroes' in the books. What teenager would be believable if, after some huge monster had whacked him aroud the face with a piece of wood, said 'ooh fiddlesticks, that smarts'?
I'm really keen that as many kids read as possible, and more than that, that they read because they WANT to read. You have to be extremely talented to be a kids author, and I would suggest that it's harder than ever now, when kids have so many more distractions. These books should have a appeal and will sell really well if bookshops stock 'em.
I don't expect teenagers to be swinging from chandeliers when the latest new book comes out, but it's refreshing and heart warming when you see how excited some of our younger customers get when they come to choose their next read.
And maybe some of you big kids out there might enjoy these books too. I certainly did, and i'm a high court judge.