Books by Chris Westwood

GRAVEYARD SHIFT by Chris Westwood
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 2012

"A jumble of contrived events and nonsensical details, this book is neither suspenseful enough to work as drama nor funny enough to be a sendup. (Fantasy. 11-13)"
Two London teens train to escort souls into the afterlife in this thoroughly muddled fantasy. Read full book review >
VIRTUAL WORLD by Chris Westwood
FICTION
Released: Sept. 1, 1997

From Westwood (Brother of Mine, 1994, etc.), a silly, slippery cyberspace tale. In the near future, Jack and Kyle live in a violent world where venturing outside of the towering apartment buildings is an ordeal, and where cable home shopping and online movies are favorite pastimes. When Jack learns of a new virtual reality game, Silicon Sphere, he can't wait to play, but is unprepared when he becomes trapped in the virtual world along with other young hackers. Eventually, hotshot Eddie Matrix (``At night, in bed, a cursor blinked behind his closed eyes'') helps the teens escape their computerized cage and returns them to the real world, where Jack eagerly turns to some books for wholesome entertainment. Westwood's condemnation of computers is lacking in originality or subtlety—characters who indulge in VR games complain of withdrawal-like symptoms—while his grasp of technology is shaky at best, with Jack so fascinated by his simple color monitor that he can't glance at a bedside clock to see how much time has elapsed. Few readers—up on the latest technobabble or not—will want to download this diatribe. (Fiction. 12-14) Read full book review >
BROTHER OF MINE by Chris Westwood
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: April 18, 1994

The atmosphere of Westwood's horror novels (e.g., He Came From the Shadows, 1991) infuses this nasty but muddled take on a classic premise: twins pursuing the same woman. Nick and Tony Lloyd describe events in alternating chapters. Nick meets Alex at a party; later, when she runs into Tony and mistakes his identity, he goes along since he's on the outs with his girlfriend Vicky. The mutually antipathetic twins see themselves as victims of misunderstanding and harassment, but when Nick kisses Vicky in front of everyone or Tony brings Alex to Nick's track meet their earnest protestations of innocence are not convincing. And though the author gives the two different personalities, they sound so much alike that readers will need to check chapter heads to be sure who's talking. The outcome is hopelessly contrived—enraged after the meet, Nick locks Tony in the cellar of an empty house for days, remorsefully releases him, then is hit by a car; reconciliation ensues in the hospital. Compared to the conflict in Paterson's Jacob Have I Loved (1980), the twins' relationship here is more confusing than complex; at least, by the end, they're less at odds. (Fiction. 12-16) Read full book review >
SHOCK WAVES by Chris Westwood
FICTION
Released: Oct. 19, 1992

From Westwood (He Came From the Shadows, 1991), a disappointingly lackluster horror story about an apparently human creature who seduces women and then draws their life essence. After killing two in a British village, he's about to claim a third—17-year-old Leigh—when the ghosts of his past victims rise up to tear him apart. Despite the author's weak efforts at misdirection, readers will know who the killer is as soon as Leigh meets him; and though he supposedly has ages of experience, he leaves a wide trail of incriminating evidence. Westwood creates little atmosphere or dramatic tension, only hints at the creature's nature and motives, and kills it off in a gruesome, contrived, and absurdly well-timed fashion. Slow-moving and perfunctory. (Fiction. YA) Read full book review >
HE CAME FROM THE SHADOWS by Chris Westwood
FICTION
Released: April 15, 1991

Ragged, grinning Mr. Stands knows your deepest wishes and— horribly—wants to grant them. Jules Dwyer, 15, has been as gloomy as everyone else in Eastfield since the colliery closed. Now Mr. Stands arrives and turns things around: dingy houses look brighter, new bikes, cars, and appliances appear as if by magic, and Jules meets beautiful, mysterious new classmate Rachel. Stands, saying he's just beginning, promises a Big Day soon. Haunted by terrifying dreams, Jules and Rachel rightly suspect that a malign force lies behind the town's sudden good fortune. When Jules's sister Laurie disappears, his search for her takes him into an old mine that Stands—feeding in some eldritch way on the little girl's hyperactive imagination—plans to reopen with the resurrected bodies of miners who have died there. Westwood uses every tool in the horror novelist's kit: atmospheric language, forebodings, in sinister toys, marching zombies, and a Bad Guy who explodes at the climax into a cloud of loathsome, batlike creatures. When Laurie finally turns her imaginative powers against Stands and wishes him gone, he vanishes—and so does Rachel. A macabre story (this British author's first YA book) with a memorable title character and a riveting first chapter. (Fiction. 12-15) Read full book review >