An easy, quick read for horror fans who want to be scared but not terrified.

READ REVIEW

A BAD NIGHT FOR BULLIES

From the Goolz Next Door series , Vol. 1

A white boy who uses a manual wheelchair is drawn into a real ghost story when a famous horror author and his daughters, also white, move in next door.

As a self-conscious wheelchair user and an English immigrant in a small Maine town, seventh-grader Harold Bell dubs himself the “ultimate unicorn” for bullies like white tough guy Alex Hewitt. But bullies pale in comparison to the vengeful ghost unleashed when horror author Frank Goolz activates the Stone of the Dead, an artifact that raises the dead by draining the life force of the living who use it. When Alex disappears, Harold and the Goolz girls, confident Ilona and her headstrong little sister, Suzie, must brave the ghost to save him. In an unexplained development, holding the stone restores Harold’s ability to walk, causing him to covet the stone at his peril. Though such horrors as a rotting ghost and a crab-covered corpse are gruesome, human villains lose their menace in caricature and exposition. The ghost, the bullies, and the aforementioned corpse are hastily connected, and the ending sends Harold and the Goolzes on another adventure. Though Harold’s occasional exposition makes the suspense somewhat halting, he and the Goolzes share a droll sense of humor. Harold’s conflicting feelings about his paralysis are sympathetically addressed, and the “magical cure” trope is somewhat complicated by Harold’s history: he became paralyzed at age 7, so his memories of walking make his desire to do so again believable.

An easy, quick read for horror fans who want to be scared but not terrified. (Horror. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62979-677-2

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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There’s nothing exceptional here, but the otherworldly elements and headlong pacing will sweep readers along.

HENRY HUNTER AND THE CURSED PIRATES

From the Henry Hunter series , Vol. 2

In a second brush with the supernatural (following Henry Hunter and the Beast of Snagov, 2016), brainy young sleuth Henry and his faithful chronicler, Adolphus, are kidnapped by undead pirates. Yo ho ho!

News that a friend’s parents have vanished on a cruise in the Caribbean prompts the dapper kid detective (looking ever natty in suit, tie, and fedora in Tankard’s lavishly detailed drawings) to take a quick sabbatical from St. Grimbold’s School for Extraordinary Boys and fly to Barbados to investigate. Hardly has he begun than an ectoplasmic tentacle grabs him and his sidekick, Dolf—depositing both aboard the spectral ship of Blackbeard himself. The legendary pirate is still around courtesy of a curse laid on a certain bit of booty and, since ghosts can’t hold shovels, bent on collecting hapless tourists to dig up buried treasure. Matthews enthusiastically chucks bits of pirate lore, along with the odd skeleton, map, and treasure chest, into the enterprise, and for additional atmosphere, the illustrator strews margins and corners with bugs, fish, stormy seas, and nautical jetsam. Aside from a “Rastafarian” guide, the entire cast, living and otherwise, is evidently white (and, with one minor exception, male). By the end, the curse is broken, the pirates gone, the captives rescued, and Henry himself mysteriously vanished in the wake of an encounter with merpeople. Stay tuned.

There’s nothing exceptional here, but the otherworldly elements and headlong pacing will sweep readers along. (Fantasy/mystery. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-51071-039-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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Worth a look for fans of Spiderwick and the ever-living Goosebumps.

THE SLITHER SISTERS

From the Tales From Lovecraft Middle School series , Vol. 2

Ancient squirming evil from dark dimensions beyond threatens to take over the world—starting with the student-council presidency.

In series opener Professor Gargoyle (2012), Lovecraft Middle School seventh-grader Robert Arthur and his former nemesis, Glenn Torkells, saved their new school from the eldritch demon inhabiting Professor Goyle’s body. Now, crazed physicist Crawford Tillinghast, currently trapped in another dimension, is attempting to take over Lovecraft Middle School by gaining control of the student council with his minions, two snake-haired demons disguised as popular girls Sarah and Sylvia Price. Can Robert and Glenn defeat the dimension-hopping monsters with the help of ghost girl Karina and slightly creepy librarian Ms. Lavinia, or will the cthulhu hordes overrun us all? Gilman’s second entry picks up where the first left off and adeptly sets up the third, to be released two months hence. It’s another slightly creepy, often funny read that doesn’t require much of its audience (least of all knowledge of the works of H.P. Lovecraft). Occasional action-packed and monster-filled black-and-white illustrations and another motion-activated lenticular cover add eye-catching zest. Though it can stand alone, much is set up in the first book.

Worth a look for fans of Spiderwick and the ever-living Goosebumps. (Humorous horror. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59474-593-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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