Tag Archives: ghosts

The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker – Lauren James

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Walker Books

September 2020

ISBN: 9781406391121

RRP: $14.99

Whatever it is you might expect to happen after your death it is not likely to match Lauren James’ latest supernatural thriller. Harriet Stoker has been raised strictly, protected and, truth be told, controlled by her grandmother since both her parents died of an unexplained food poisoning episode.

Now Harriet’s at university and enjoying her first taste of relative freedom. In the pursuit of exceptional images for her photography assignment, Harriet has broken into the derelict building that was Mulcture Hall. The long-abandoned building was once filled with the bustle of uni students until a mysterious event caused the simultaneous deaths of dozens of them.

As soon as Harriet, feeling daring and intrepid, forces her way into the grim ruins of the former boarding house she begins her search for her interesting shots. Working her way up the dark staircase she suddenly and shockingly catches her foot and falls – into the void created by five stories of nothingness.

So Harriet dies on the mossy concrete floor of an old student hall with a huge hole in the back of her head…and ‘wakes’ up to find herself surrounded by other students. There is just one problem. These other students are all dead as well. They are the ghosts of those who died in the mysterious event years earlier. Felix, Kasper, Rima and Leah are just a few of the ghosts of Mulcture Hall but they are the ones who try their best to welcome Harriet and help her find her way in the confusion of her new afterlife. Her disbelief quickly turns to rage and when she discovers that each ghost has a special power, she is determined to unleash her own no matter the cost to return to the life left behind. The chaos Harriet creates is nothing compared to that in store when much older entities and powers than hers are set free.

Narrated in turn by each of the main ghostly characters as well as an unknown voice whose identity is shrouded until the very end this is both gripping and intense. Each of the characters is dealing with unresolved issues, some from their living days and some acquired since and their long friendship becomes severely tested as they bear the impact of Harriet’s heedless actions.

This masterful paranormal narrative will hold readers spellbound as the intricate plot unravels exploring themes of love, loyalty, courage, sexuality, lust for power, revenge, deceit, greed and self-sacrifice.

The Seven Keys – Allison Rushby

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Walker Books Australia

July 2019

ISBN: 9781760650797
Australian RRP: $16.99
New Zealand RRP: $18.99

 

I absolutely loved my first introduction to Flossie Birdwhistle in The Turnkey of Highgate Cemetery and was so excited to read her next adventure, though I’ve had to wait a while. Let me say right now, it was worth the wait. Allison Rushby has once again transported us not only in time but also dimension as we enter the twilight world where Flossie has such a huge responsibility.

It’s now seven years or so after the war in which Flossie played such an important role. The help she had from her nemesis Hugo Howsham, who was a temporary ally, has almost been forgotten. Indeed, now it seems far away when Hugo manoeuvres himself into a position of power by acquiring three of the cemetery keys, his own and two more. He’s not just after Flossie’s key but is determined to master all seven for the seven cemeteries in the ring around London.

Flossie feels overwhelmed and has little idea how she can possibly outsmart and outplay Hugo particularly when the rest of the turnkeys seem to be feeling very resentful of her ineptitude over the key dilemma and the revelation of her secret association with Hugo in the past.

But this determined guardian of her departed is not alone. Her reunion with her much-loved maid Daisy laid to rest in another graveyard, the support of her older sisters who now rest in her care, her Advisor Hazel and eventually the rallying of the other Turnkeys enable her to thwart the despotic Hugo’s plans, at least for the time being, and further to ensure the safety of her mother, her only living relative.

These are just the most marvellously imaginative narratives filled with historical and geographical information about the London of the past and its society.  There has not been one reader in my library to whom I have pressed the first book upon who has not come back thoroughly hooked and wanting more. I am well pleased I will be able to recommend this second as highly.

Certainly we will now be waiting for the further adventures of Flossie who no doubt will need to once again engage all her skills and the combined talents of her twilight friends to block any dangers to her resting charges.

Simply splendid for readers from around ten years upwards.

The Little Grey Girl (The Wild Magic trilogy #2) – Celine Kiernan.

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Walker Australia

ISBN: 9781406373929
Imprint: Walker

February 1, 2019

Australian RRP: $16.99
New Zealand RRP: $18.99

I absolutely loved Begone the Raggedy Witches which was the first in this trilogy so was pretty chuffed when this second instalment arrived. The Queen and her raggedy witches have been routed and Mup’s Ma is the new queen having taken her rightful place in the strange new world in which the family finds itself. But things in Witches Borough are not yet safe. The long cruel reign of the old queen has left many festering wounds among the people and more, the ghosts that inhabit the castle. One in particular possesses a terrible magic which threatens to overturn the new order and destroy Mup and her family.

The little grey girl ghost proves to be elusive as well as intent on destruction, and Mup along with her friend Crow are in grave danger as they attempt to uncover both her hiding place and her motives. While Ma tries to placate the remaining witches and clans, Mup is faced with harnessing her own newly discovered powers in order to thwart the ghost’s intentions and right ancient wrongs.

This is an intriguing narrative and though often seriously creepy will have the lovers of such spooky magical tales fully entranced as they follow Mup’s unravelling of the sad and heinous history of her grandmother, the old queen. Readers will find themselves urging Mup to keep up her courage, protect her family and to not succumb to the terrors the ghost produces.

Highly recommended for stout-hearted readers from around ten years upwards.

The Chocolate Factory Ghost – David O’Connell

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Bloomsbury

ISBN: 9781408887066
ISBN-10: 1408887061
Series: The Dundoodle Mysteries
Published: 1st May 2018
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

RRP; $12.99

Archie McBudge has lucky underpants. He knows he does because he and his mum have just discovered that Archie has inherited a huge mansion, a famous sweets factory and more from his Great-Uncle Archibald. What makes this even more astonishing is that neither Archie nor his mum even knows the old man existed until this moment.

Anyone might think this is a recipe for a very happy ending with a full stop but not so as Archie discovers that there is definitely something sinister, spooky and even supernatural going on at Honeystone Hall. Luckily his new albeit odd friends Fliss and Billy are ready and willing to help Archie unravel the complexities of flying letters leading to cryptic clues, strange artefacts, and horrible twin Piglet cousins not to mention finding the secret ingredient on which McBudge’s famous fudge depends.

Lots of fun for readers from around eight years upwards. There will be plenty of laughs as well as a few creepy moments – just the right balance of both!

Check out David O’Connell’s webpage here for more information, teaching notes and a fun activity pack.

The Giant’s Necklace – Michael Morpurgo. Illustrated by Briony May Smith

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Walker Books Australia

ISBN: 9781406357127
Imprint: WALKER HARDBACK
Australian RRP: $19.99
New Zealand RRP: $22.99

Coming hot on the heels of my review of Michael’s ‘Such Stuff’ is this absolutely beautiful short story/novella which is both poignant and thrilling.  And of course, now I also want to know the ‘prompt’ for this particular story.

A family is on their annual summer holiday on the Cornish coast in the same cottage in which they always stay. As usual the secluded little beach is all theirs and for the entire stay, Cherry the youngest in the family has been vigilantly collecting perfect pink cowrie shells and stringing them into a ‘giant’s’ necklace much to the amusement of her four older brothers.

On the last day of the holiday Cherry is short of her target by only about a hundred shells and knows that she can achieve her goal.  Knowing the child is safe on the beach the family go back to pack up ready for the next morning’s departure leaving Cherry with her fixation.

But when the weather turns bad and the sea turns worse Cherry is cut off from her usual path home. At first she is frightened but realises she should be able to climb the cliff to safety. A strange light from a cave attracts her attention midway and she finds herself in an old copper mine where two old-fashioned Cornishmen are working away. They sense her distress, warm her and comfort her and eventually the younger man leads her to the surface and she is able to find her way home.

No spoilers here – to find out the twist in the tail/tale you will have to read it for yourself.

Beautifully presented in a small hardback with stunning illustrations and delicious glossy pages, this is a treat for the senses.

Highly recommended for readers from around nine years up.

Somebody Stop Ivy Pocket – Caleb Krisp/illustrated by John Kelly

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ISBN:9781408858677

Publisher:Bloomsbury

Imprint:Bloomsbury Child

June 2016

RRP $14.99

That irritating and insufferable Ivy, Child Blunder extraordinaire, is back with another hair and eyebrow raising adventure. Half dead and now living with a sinister and secretive pair of undertakers who purport to be her new ‘parents’, Ivy is on a mission to save her dead friend Rebecca becoming embroiled along the way in another mystery – the disappearance of a young man and his sweetheart. The return of the nefarious Miss Always is offset by the appearance of Ivy’s new ‘special friend’ Miss Carnage, a librarian of dubious antecedents and strangely theatrical appearance.

All of this plus dealing with the horrible Matilda, Lady Elizabeth and various other buffoons, not to mention being incarcerated in a local insane asylum keeps the unsquashable Ivy puzzling and plotting with her usual doubtful diplomacy and fallible finesse.

Between the constant harassment from Mother Snagsby to dust and clean and fetch and carry and the almost tender empathy from whisky slugging Mrs Dickens the cook, Ivy begins to detect that something is not quite right about her creepy funerary parents. There is especially something most odd about their insistence on her drinking warm milk which always seems to make her incredibly sleepy and reading death odes to people who are seemingly not ill enough to die – but who do!

As usual Ivy is sharp as a tack or at least an earthworm and with her astounding intellect ferrets out solutions to her endless problems – although fails miserably to remove that hideous wart from her new mother’s less-than-beautiful face.

Those readers with a taste for the Gothic side of humour and a secret sympathy for ghosts and ghouls will relish this second instalment of the irrepressible Ivy.

Highly recommended for crazy readers from around ten years upwards.

 

Anyone But Ivy Pocket – Caleb Krisp

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 Allen & Unwin Australia

Category:Children’s fiction

ISBN:9781408858646

Publisher:Bloomsbury

Imprint:Bloomsbury Child

Pub Date:February 2016

RRP $12.99

 

Caleb Krisp’s author bio from the publisher’s website should give you a pretty clear indication of the type of story to expect in this new series:

 

Caleb Krisp was raised by militant librarians who fed him a constant diet of nineteenth century literature and room temperature porridge. He graduated from the University of Sufferance with a degree in Whimsy and set out to make his mark in the world as a writer. Years of toil and failure followed, until, following a brief stint working in a locked box, Caleb moved to an abandoned cottage deep in the woods and devoted himself to writing about the adventures of a twelve-year-old lady’s maid of no importance. Caleb has a strong dislike of pastry chefs and certain domesticated rabbits. His only communication with the outside world is via morse code or kettle drum. He trusts no one.

Ivy Pocket is possibly the most maddening character you will ever encounter. She also creates mayhem wherever she appears. Though but a lowly maid of not very superior intellect, Ivy suffers from an insufferably inflated opinion of her own abilities.

As you lurch from one disaster to another in Ivy’s debut appearance, you begin to realise that there must be some kind of saving grace about anyone so completely and utterly inept, insensitive and impervious.

The story starts with Ivy being abandoned by her mistress in Paris – because of her overwhelming inadequacies as a maid.

Undeterred Ivy sets out to find her way back to England and lo! she is employed by an aging duchess to deliver a mysterious and valuable diamond to a young artistrocratic girl.

What follows is a comedy of errors but with an underlying sinister and spooky thread apparent to all but Ivy. Creepy little cowled creatures, a sneaky woman posing as a writer and also posing as a friend, a cold but efficient governess, a kindly solicitor, a completely bonkers upper class family and a rather unpleasant ghost all impact on Ivy’s mission.

To call Ivy a heroine seems slightly misguided but oddly enough despite all her irritating and often stupid habits and plans, she does emerge – indeed, survives – triumphantly.

Stay tuned for the continuing saga of Miss Ivy Pocket with the second instalment due out in May 2016.

An entertaining read which will appeal to those who enjoy the Lemony Snicket type of macabre but hilarious story.

Read more about the books here.

Lockwood & Co #2: The Whispering Skull – Jonathan Stroud

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Random House Australia

ISBN: 9780857532664

Published: 01/10/2014

Imprint: Doubleday Childrens

Extent: 496 pages

RRP $22.99

Lucy Carlyle, George Cubbins and their boss, the suave Anthony Lockwood, return in another spine-chilling case for their psychic detection agency. Definitely creepier than the first volume in the series, this one will no doubt have the thrill-seekers even more firmly hooked.

The team of intrepid investigators are called in by DEPREC (Department of Psychical Research and Control, a government agency, which monitors the various agencies and works closely with the police) when a Victorian doctor’s grave is disinterred from Kensal Green Cemetery. A mysterious, and dangerous, object goes missing from the coffin and a terrible phantom is released. At the same time, George has been applying all his energy to discovering more about a rare skull trapped in a glass jar – one of the many mysterious and potentially lethal objects which abound in Lockwood’s dilapidated but cosy home and the company headquarters.

Once again, there is a liberal dose of humour to lighten the tension of the plot which does frequently get fiendishly edgy . The return of secondary characters from the first book, including the trio’s adversaries from rival agency Fitts and particularly, the supercilious Kipps, as well as the introduction of new oddballs such as Flo Bones, a rather unfortunate ‘friend’ of Lockwood, brings another layer to the plot with the various interactions between groups and individuals.

Throughout the novel, Lucy’s curiosity about Lockwood’s reticence regarding his personal history and the upstairs room which is forbidden to both she and George, becomes more and more acute, particularly when the horrible ghost jar skull starts talking – and clearly she is the only one who can hear it’s insidious words.

The ending – with the successful conclusion of the case out of the way –has a marvellous reveal which provides just the sort of segue to keep fans eager for the next instalment.

My searching indicates only that the first novel’s film adaptation is currently in production stages  with no release date advised but, for sure, this will be a movie that will attract a flock of ghoul-hungry viewers.

Find out more about the author and the series here and see if you have what it takes to be a psychic detection agent via the interactive game…by clicking on the banner below.

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