COUSINS IN THE CASTLE

An orphan is abandoned, robbed, and kidnapped in a Victorian melodrama from Wallace (The Twin in the Tavern, 1993, etc.), a specialist in the genre. When motherless Amelia's father is reportedly killed while abroad, she is forced to leave London to sail to America with her forbidding Aunt Charlotte. Upon arriving in New York, Amelia is beset by troubles and seeks help from the only person she knows, Primrose, a child singer she met on the ship. This is good entertainment, with all of melodrama's blandishments: an innocent orphan facing a fate worse than death, dastardly villains, conniving relatives, family fortunes—it's all here. So are the weaknesses of the genre: absurd coincidences, too-ample exposition at the climax, terribly tidy conclusions. Those who know what to expect will find this a lightweight but exciting page-turner, a good read for a rainy afternoon, that ultimately satisfies. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-689-80637-X

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1996

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THE SUMMER OF THE BONEPILE MONSTER

Hollis and his older sister, Lou, have been sent away to spend the summer at their grandmother's country house while their parents try to work out their marital problems. Hollis soon has more to think about than home; next door is Bonepile Hollow, where a monster lives that no one will talk about, a singing mouse starts visiting his room at night, and a mysterious figures starts appearing amidst the ever-encroaching kudzu. By turns wondrous and suspenseful, this debut novel makes reality seem magical to create an aura of enchantment. As she builds to a scary and somewhat brutal conclusion, Henderson tosses off many fascinating details about the vivid setting. Whether Hollis is learning how to play a pan-pipe, waiting in the dark for the singing mouse, fighting back the malevolent kudzu, or exploring the evil at the heart of the Hollow, his adventures are engrossing and exotic. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1995

ISBN: 1-57131-603-5

Page Count: 140

Publisher: Milkweed

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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SOMETHING WICKEDLY WEIRD

THE WOODEN MILE

A prolific British illustrator makes a rare foray across the pond with this faintly Gothic series opener. Eleven-year-old Stanley is amazed to learn that he’s inherited an old mansion in Crampton Rock—a distant seaside town whose residents turn out to include a candy-store owner who changes into a werewolf every night, a trio of menacing (if ineffectual pirates) and a supposedly dead pike that utters cryptic warnings. Fortunately, Stanley is a clever, doughty lad, well capable of blasting the werewolf with a silver bullet, tricking the pirates into barrels and weathering other challenges with just occasional help from adult allies. Mould adds plenty of comically ghoulish ink drawings and silhouettes to his fluently written tale, and sets up a continuing plotline that leads to encounters with a decapitated ghost and more pirates in the next episode, The Icy Hand (ISBN: 978-159643-385-4, also September). Fine fare for fans of the likes of Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell’s Far-Flung Adventures series or Philip Ardagh’s Eddie Dickens trilogy. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59643-383-0

Page Count: 188

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2008

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