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I’m torn on this one, you guys. There were many things I liked about Nova Ren Suma’s The Walls Around Us: the prose style is gorgeous, and I was much more interested than I expected to be in a story about killer ballerinas. On the other hand, I saw the twists coming from a mile away (rare for me!), but dammit, I was still so interested in this book up until the last twenty-five pages or so. The basic premise of The Walls Around Us: Amber’s in a juvenile detention center, Violet’s off to Julliard. These are our novel’s two narrators. Both their stories are bound together by their relationship to Ori – a promising young ballerina who is sent to the same juvenile detention center after allegedly murdering two rival ballerinas. As readers, we never get Ori’s story directly, but are asked to piece it together from Amber and Violet’s accounts. (This... Read more »
Well, this book was one deliciously creepy treat. It’s the sort of book that wholly transports from the first pages and ensnares the reader into its darkly magical web. At its best, the gothic aspects of this story reminded me of Strange Sweet Song and its dark fairy tale feel brought to mind Cuckoo Song. Those are two of my favorite books of 2014 and I do not make the comparison lightly! Sterling Saucier (what a tremendous name, btw) is dealing with loss on several fronts. Immediately, her brother has disappeared into the town’s mystical swamp. Years earlier her alcoholic and abusive father left their family. Of course, his departure was not without significant scarring itself for both Sterling and Phineas. And the repercussions of that departure echo throughout the story. I was quite struck, actually, by how this was both a paranormal novel and a contemporary “issue”... Read more »
The creepy beauty of The Hanging Monastery statues part 1.
The Hanging Monastery in Datong, China is a completely incredible building in every way. A temple that hangs from the side of a cliff and is traversed by rickety walkways and steep stairs, with only waist high railings to keep you from plunging hundreds of feet, would be fascinating and worth a visit even if empty inside. But it wasn’t empty, it held ghosts.
Ghosts in the form of the strangest statues I’ve yet to see in China (or anywhere). These were statues that stared vacant eyed across the ages with ghoulish expressions of the living dead. I might be making it sound like thought of these statues as grotesque horrors, but that is not true at all. I found them beautiful. Some of the most beautiful and unique statues I’ve yet to see in a temple. They are not beautiful in the shining gold-leaf smiling Buddha way, but in a completely unique way that gouged out eyes and missing hands cannot detract from (in many ways it actually enhances their appearance). Standing in the little rooms they live in, mostly alone with them, I felt in awe in a way the giant Buddhas don’t make me feel.
I spent a lot of time taking pictures of these Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian emissaries from centuries past, and I am going to put most of them on here in two parts.
After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.
Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family...
Beloved master storyteller Neil Gaiman returns with a luminous new novel for the audience that embraced his New York Times bestselling modern classic Coraline. Magical, terrifying, and filled with breathtaking adventures, The Graveyard Book is sure to enthrall readers of all ages.
After a tragic event and a narrow escape from a man named Jack, an 18-month-old baby finds himself adopted by the ghosts of the local graveyard. He grows up to be known as Bod, his full name "Nobody," and the novel follows young Bod from his rescue into his teenage years. As he grows more curious and fascinated with the outside world, his ghostly family watches his transformation, and experience what they haven't had in years- growing up.
A haunting and amazing adventure, Bod's got a strong voice and his adventures and growing pains are very real. His band of ghostly parents are vivid, both physically and character wise. Like other Gaiman writing, this book is suspenseful, spooky and creepy. I couldn't help reading late into the night, craving to know what was next for Bod. And for the man named Jack, who has come back to finish what he couldn't complete years ago. (The man named Jack still sends chills up my spine. Even in the middle of the day.)
For me, Gaiman's writing impacted me the most in this novel as well as Coraline. I don't know if I'm just partial to his Middle Grade/Young Adult writing more than his adult writing. Or if these stories transport me to a time long ago when I was a kid reading ghost stories under my bed with a flash light, scaring myself awake for many sleepless nights.
Frangoline is a girl who is good during the day but loves to sneak out of her bedroom at night to explore the world and the creatures in it. As Frangoline runs wild, the wise moon looks on, reminding her that children should be in bed at night, not out having adventures. But Frangoline does not heed the moon's advice, instead doing as she pleases.
Unfortunately, her nighttime fun wakes the dead, who come crawling out to see what all the noise is about. Suddenly being outside in the dark isn't so fun and Frangoline longs to be in her safe bed. Will she escape the dark creatures of the night? You'll have to read it to find out.
Frangoline and the Midnight Dream is a sweet little picture book that would be perfect to read during Halloween. With charming illustrations and a fun, rhyming story, children and adults alike will have a good time following Frangoline on her midnight adventure.
Pearce's word play and use of rhyme gives the story a great flow and it almost seems to bounce along the page with Frangoline. Though I enjoyed the story, the illustrations were my favorite part. They are super cute and a little "dark" but in a non-scary way.
This might be a good book for the child that likes to avoid bedtime. It also stands alone as a fun read. If you like your picture books a little spooky, definitely pick up Frangoline and the Midnight Dream.
This is great news indeed. Just in time for Halloween, cartoonists Bob Flynn, Chris Houghton, and David Degrand present Heeby Jeeby Comix — bizarre, offbeat, and nonsensical comics for kids (of all ages).
New kids are used to hearing stories about the places they move into from the local kids. Almost immediately upon driving up to their place, Logan meets the kid next door, Arthur. It doesn’t take long for Arthur to tell Logan that he was surprised anyone bought the place, considering what happened there. It’s not called the murder house for nothing.
Logan cannot believe that his mom and dad bought their new house knowing that someone was killed there. Logan’s folks think that Arthur is exaggerating, and while they agree that Mrs. Donaldson did die in the house, they doubt she was murdered.
Ever helpful Arthur takes Logan to the local library to check out the old newspapers from the time of Mrs. Donaldson’s death. Turns out that there is a lot more to the situation with Logan’s house than he even heard about from Arthur. There is missing money from Mrs. Donaldson’s job at a now abandoned theme park, and tremendous amounts of family drama, including the fact that Mrs. Donaldson’s son-in-law might have somehow been involved in this whole situation.
Now Arthur is the kind of kid who marches to his own drummer, and really doesn’t care what other kids think. Logan is fine with that although he is a little worried about what might happen once school starts. But they do have a long summer ahead of them, with unscripted days. Arthur is soon leading the charge for him and Logan to solve this old mystery. Logan’s a bit unsure about the whole thing, since it includes lots of bike riding up many hills and skulking around a creepy abandoned theme park.
Mary Downing Hahn has written an atmospheric and just creepy enough story. Don’t be fooled, there are issues of spousal abuse that make this a read for the older tween, but all of the details are appropriate to the story. Arthur, while unlikable, is believable and his story gives insight into the way that many children live. It’s a powerful thing to see a character shunned from his own mother, to the other kids at school, just keep moving on and be strong enough to believe in himself. The juxtaposition of Arthur and Logan’s families will definitely give readers something to think about.
Director Rodrigo Blaas offers up Alma, a perfect little animated short that is equal parts Pixar and The Twilight Zone. Sadly, the short’s official site notes that it is only available for viewing online for a limited time. I don’t know how long that will be, but do enjoy it while you can.
Sixteen-year-old Cara Lange has been a loner ever since she moved away from her best and only friend, Zoe, years ago. She eats lunch with the other girls from the track team, but they're not really her friends. Mostly she spends her time watching Ethan Gray from a distance, wishing he would finally notice her, and avoiding the popular girls who call her "Choker" after a humiliating incident in the cafeteria.
Then one day Cara comes home to find Zoe waiting for her. Zoe's on the run from problems at home, and Cara agrees to help her hide. With her best friend back, Cara's life changes overnight. Zoe gives her a new look and new confidence, and next thing she knows, she's getting invited to parties and flirting with Ethan. Best of all, she has her BFF there to confide in.
But just as quickly as Cara's life came together, it starts to unravel. A girl goes missing in her town, and everyone is a suspect—including Ethan. Worse still, Zoe starts behaving strangely, and Cara begins to wonder what exactly her friend does all day when she's at school. You're supposed to trust your best friend no matter what, but what if she turns into a total stranger?
How I found out about this book: Grabbed the galley online thanks to Simon & Schuster and Publisher's Weekly
My review: I'm lucky my husband is a heavy sleeper. Choker had me twisting and turning in terror, cringing every few chapters, occasionally having to burrow into his side because the chills running up my spine were actually causing me to feel like my blood was literally running cold--despite 2 blankets, flannel jammies, and a snuggie. Shhh--What's that whimpering noise? (Oh wait, that's me.)
Fans of old-school teen horror like R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike, and Caroline B. Cooney will either delight in this new addition to the young adult thriller genre, or totally see the end coming. I hope it's the former--not being able to guess the ending, or thinking that I hadn't, gave me the freedom to enjoy the book. So if you want to enjoy it, believe me when I say that whatever you think the answer to the mystery is--you're wrong!
I was browsing my local public library the other day looking for tween titles that i hadn't seen before, and Passion and Poison caught my eye with its' fetching cover and creepy title. Kids are always asking us for "scary" stories and it is sometimes difficult to find something scary that is still age appropriate at the same time. This collection of original takes on traditional folklore motifs is just the thing.
Author Janice M. Del Negro wrote these tales to be read aloud, but even someone reading to him/herself is bound to get the chills somewhere in this collection. There are 8 tales in all ranging from the more traditional ghost story "Skulls and Bones, Ghosts, and Gold", to the truly gory "The Severed Hand", with my favorite being the latter.
All of the stories are hauntingly illustrated by Vince Natale to great effect. Readers who have been fans of Gidwitz's recent Tale Dark and Grimm are certain to enjoy these dark and creepy tales.
Here's a first, I'm reviewing another author's book. Normally, I am working hard to get a reviewer to read my books. Then there's the whole "raising four kids" thing. Rarely do I have time for leisure reading. I literally have a stack of books waiting for me.
So my oldest daughter came home from school (yes, several months ago) carrying a book with the most intriguing cover. It was Dan Poblocki'sThe Stone Child. She read the thing in two days flat. She said it was the creepiest book she'd ever read and this is coming from an Official Member of the American Chillers Fan Club. After she finished, that cover kept calling to me. Mostly black with a hint of blue light surrounding the statue of a child. She holds out a book, beckoning the reader to peak inside. It wasn't until after I had a few chapters down that I noticed the creatures wrapped around her feet.
This cover pulled me in, much the same as the pendant pulls in the two different authors in the story. For a writer, I am one of the slowest readers you will meet. It took me more like two weeks to finish the book, as opposed to my daughter's two days.
Don't take that the wrong way though. I completely enjoyed The Stone Child. Basic plot: the outsider, Edgar Fennicks, moves to Gatesweed, an unfamiliar world. We get to know Eddie over the first couple chapters as he is set up to be the classic underdog. We get several hints that things are not right in this town and Eddie discovers an unusual book, hand-written in code, by his favorite author, who also happens to have vanished from this very town. The story begins moving once Eddie meets Harris, the son of the quaint, local bookstore owner. Eddie and Harris embark on a quest to unravel the code and hopefully find the missing author. With the help of another outsider, the quirky Maggie, the three junior detectives encounter a menagerie of creative monsters.The Woman in Black is the most effective as her vagaries torment both Eddie and the missing author whether they are awake or falling through a nightmare.
Things that worked for me: The suspense; The monsters; The Lilith mythology; The setting came alive and I could feel Poblocki's passion for the North Eastern countryside, especially when they went to pick apples; And a genui
We begin with a murder. A triple murder, in fact. The man Jack was trying for a fourth, but the little baby had a habit of wandering, and he had left his crib, bumped down the stairs, and gone out into the night.
Jack wasn't worried, however. He knew that his keen sense of smell would lead him to the child. He ends up at the graveyard, and he knows that the child is there. What he doesn't know is that after a visit from his newly dead mother, the baby has been taken in by some "residents" of the graveyard, and that he is being protected by a "man" named Silas. Jack is sent off.
The child, named Nobody Owens, exists in the graveyard with ghostly teachers and friends, exploring and learning while knowing that Jack is out there, and is still out for him.
Gaiman has brought a wonderful story in the vein of Coraline. Superbly creepy, outright scary, yet sweet and filled with melancholy. I simply cannot wait to see Dave McKean's art added to the mix for the final copy. Also head on over here for additional information and some incredible illustrations.
Gaiman, famous for his creepy and often scary tales, Coraline and The Wolves in the Wall, has created in his new novel something that is neither despite its chilling first chapter and spectral cast of characters. This is a story about the power of family -whatever form it comes in - and the potential of a child who is raised with love and a sense of duty. Nobody Owens (Bod) is adopted by a couple of ghosts after narrowly escaping death at the hands of the mysterious man who murdered the rest of his family. After much debate he is granted the Freedom of the Graveyard by its long dead inhabitants. His guardian Silas, neither dead nor alive, brings him food and ensures he is educated in the ways of the dead and the living. Of course, life for young Owens is not all plain sailing. There is the ghoul gate and the ancient force that waits in the oldest grave and the mysterious man who still searches for the boy he failed to kill. The story of an orphaned boy being hunted down by a secret society and protected by magic sounds familiar but while the story of Harry Potter resonates here, the sympathetic, flawed and ultimately very human character of Bod saves this from being merely a reshaping of Rowling’s epic tale. In fact, Gaiman's title is an homage to Kipling's The Jungle Book- a story with a similar theme. I can’t help thinking, however, that this novel should be the first in a series. There are too many questions unanswered. While I never really believed that Bod was ever in any real danger in the graveyard, a boy who sets off in to the world of the living with his “eyes and heart wide open” can only be headed for uncertainty.
FYI Coraline the movie is slated to be released in 2009. Click here for a sneak preview.
Here’s one of my favourite animated shorts, the delightfully unsettling Breakfast from the great surrealist Czech animator Jan Svankmajer. The piece is one third of a trilogy, also including Lunch, and the not-so-safe-for-work Dinner.
I’ve loved Svankmajer’s work since accidentally stumbling upon his creepy version of Alice in Wonderland on TV as a child. The ensuing nightmares made sure I remembered his work well into adulthood.
What could be better than an amusement park? (Well, lots of things if you tend to watch horror movies!). A bunch of kids run happily through the amusement park and are excited to get on the roller coaster. It's a bit scary, but it seems fun enough until the track splits and one car carrying two boys ends up landing in a boiler room of sorts. The boys are pursued by a fat bald man, who chains them to the innards of the rides and sets them to work.
While this was happening, a jack-o-lantern finds life once more and convinces a ne'er-do-well clown that he can help the children. A denture flying fight ensues and then the real trippy nature of the book takes over. The park in essence comes alive, and evil meets its match.
Not technically a Halloween story, this wordless ode to steam punk will have teen readers delighting over the imagery within. Super creepy to this clown-fearin' librarian, fans of Gris Grimly and Burton should approve.
I can’t remember when I first stumbled upon CW Wells’s work on Flickr, who posts her work under the name Snailbooty, but seeing some new images pop up today, I thought it’s a good a time as any to share her work here. I was first drawn to her photographs of toys and dolls that walk that beautiful line between unsettling and playful, but her collage work is similarly exciting.
If the denizens of Richard Scarry’s Busy Town had children, and those children grew up and moved to Tokyo and dropped E at a Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re concert and woke up the next morning pregnant and decided to keep the babies, and those babies grew up and had a huge fight with their parents and jumped on a freighter bound for Colombia and ended up in a squat in Bogota, they might look something like the hilarious, angry, stressed-out, manic critters that populate the imaginary world of Laura Osorno.
Also they are very cute.
Also, sometimes they are zombies. But still very cute.
Laura Osorno was born in Bogota, Colombia. She has been illustrating since her last years of school. She studied graphic design in Bogota and has been based there ever since.
I absolutely love Laura’s character designs. She marries a raw, uncultured punk sensibility to a sophisticated understanding of design and execution to create delightfully ugly creatures you just can’t resist. They’re like little strung out hoboes you stumbled over while walking past the methadone clinic – but the cutest little darling hoboes! You just want to take ‘em home and tuck them into your bed and cuddle them!
With Hallowe’en just around the corner, Laura Osorno draws her coolest, cutest, creepiest creations on the window of a Bogota restaurant.