The Call is my worst nightmare.
In a good way.
I devoured this novel in a few hours while waiting for a plane. I loved it.
It's a world where the adolescences of Ireland can be "Called" at any moment by the Sídhe, a race of fairies that live in a parallel universe that resides "underground."
The Sídhe aren't your run of the mill fairies that sprinkle dust around and attend tiny balls and sit on toadstools all day.
They are truly terrifying monsters, and when they "Call" a youth to their land, they rarely let them live. in fact, they ensure that they are hideously tortured and maimed. When a child is "Called", they simply vanish from thin air, leaving nothing but their clothes behind. They stay away for three minutes and four seconds, but in Sídhe it's much, much longer.
The land of the Sídhe is Dante's Inferno combined with something from Joe Hill's Locke & Key series. Twisted, depraved and sadistic, the Sídhe love to torture anyone they "Call". The creatures that don't adhere to the Sídhe's rule are usually ravenous and simply want to eat the children.
Those that survive the Sídhe are never the same, they are either disfigured or suffering from PTSD so severe they can't properly function.
Luckily, Ness and her classmates have been training for years, gleaning any information they can from the survivors so they can endure a "Call" and outlive the Sídhe's hideous land.
The Call is a pedal to the metal gore-fest that pits students against each other as they try to train rigidly enough to survive a horrible ordeal. All of them know that at any moment they can be "Called" and that they most likely won't survive. The anxiety and fear the students face are palpable in this novel and the horrors the Sídhe dish out are truly disturbing.
With a large group of students who love horror, I know that The Call is going to be one of our most popular books in the coming year!
When I was a kid I was obsessed with UFOs.
My dad witnessed the unexplained object streak across the sky at his home in Clark's Harbour Nova Scotia in 1967. It would be known as the Shag Harbour UFO incident because many locals claimed to have seen a craft crash into the ocean. Some told stories of thick orange foam covering the top of the water and Russian ships suddenly converging on the area.
Whatever it was, it was an experience shared by others and the stories remain to this day.
Encounters is all about a shared experience. Based on the Ruwa, Zimbabwe UFO incident when dozens of school children claimed to have seen silver discs land behind their school, Encounters follows the journey of six children that have their lives changed forever because of the alleged alien encounter.
The most fascinating UFO experiences that I have read about are the ones where the witnesses share some kind of collective unconscious aftermath - they have recurring nightmares that are eerily similar to each other, they daydream about the same thing and they often have an almost indescribable feeling of never being alone.
Wallace captures this experience perfectly. In Ruwa, the school children drew pictures of what they saw. The pictures that were drawn were almost identical to each other. In Encounters, The school children draw the same images and each have the itchy feeling that the creatures that they saw emerge from the ships were warning them about something.
For each of the six children, all suffering from turbulent home lives in some for or another, the warnings mean different things.
If you're fascinated with stories about people who've claimed to see UFOs, you simply can't ignore this book. Its tone is pitch perfect, a dream-like haze mingles with the boiling heat of the African sun, creating an eerie atmosphere that will stick in your guts for a long, long time.
Denizen Hardwick's having a tough week.
First, he's stuck in Crosscaper orphanage. That's not a huge deal because he's been there his whole life. He has no memory of his father. His only memory of his mother is that she smelled like strawberries and used to sing to her.
Then, on his thirteenth birthday, everything changes. Denizen gets a visitor, a mysterious man that tells him he's going to take him to see his long lost aunt.
On the way to see his aunt, something weird happens. The air becomes electric and his stomach feels queasy. The driver pulls the car over and steps out.
From the darkness emerges a creature, the stuff of Denizen's nightmares. The driver, known as Grey, kills the creature with a few barely audible words, driving it back into the dark with a blast of light.
From here, Denizen learns that his family belongs to an ancient band of Knights sworn to protect the earth from these creatures who live in another fold of reality. A dark, dark, fold that is getting stronger by the hour.
Denizen must learn ancient fighting techniques if he's going to join the Knights and help save the day.
A fast-paced electric series that is going to be super popular with the teens I work with!
I recommend this book to ages 11 and up!
Cancel that holiday to Carlsbad Caverns.
A cave system hidden from humans since the dawn of time is hiding a dark secret. A secret that sees us as seemingly endles buffet.
Watching footage of the unearthing of the cavern live on tv, Ally is transfixed and horrified by what she sees.
She, along with the rest of the planet soon realise that they are being hunted, and being silent is the only key to survival.
Deaf since a tragic accident when she was young, Ally and her family use sign language to traverse the uncertain and deadly waters in their terrifying new world.
This book will disturb you, and it's a really good thing. Lebbon creates a family that you as a reader feel an almost instant connection to. The descriptions of the unwraveling of society in these pages will make your toes curl.
Being from rural Canada and now living in the UK, my daily driving experience certainly feels like the world has ended and everyone is fleeing to one point or another. In The Silence, you find out what being desperate and those roads would really be like if a major disaster ocurred.
I put this in the hands of 6th-Former the other day and I can't wait to hear what they think. Do not miss this book if you enjoy horror, adventure or just a really good story about what it takes to keep your family alive when society melts down.
I'd recommend this book to Year 12 and up!
Cameron and his mum are on the run.
Cameron's dad is a maniac, an abuser and all around psycho. That is, at least, what Cameron's been told since he was young.
After five years of jumping around, they settle on an old farmhouse in a place called Wolf Hollow.
Right away Cameron senses something's not right. He feels he's being watched from the cornfield, from the old disused barn, from the road, everywhere. He tells himself it's just his imagination, but with his mum filling his head with horror stories about his dad, he can't really be sure.
Then there's the boys at school, and the stories about the farmhouse that he's just moved into. The former owner went nuts, murdered his family and was eventually torn to pieces by his own guard dogs. Cameron can't figure out if this is true or just small town gossip.
It's when the voices come that Cameron starts to feel the ground cracking under his feet. They come at night, and they whisper of dark tales in the night.
Is Cameron losing his mind? Or is he being sent a message from beyond? It all leads to a thrilling, Shining-esque finale.
I really enjoyed this book, I felt the walls closing in on Cameron and couldn't wait to get to the end to find out what was real and what was in his imagination. I know fans of horror and mystery at my school will absolutely love this book.
I recommend The Dogs to Years 8 and up!
A mythical beast that supposedly roams the land outside of an English boarding school, the mother of all snowstorms and the claustrophobic hysteria worthy of The Shining. This is Monster by CJ Skuse.
Natasha, or Nash as she's known by her friends, is attending the highly acclaimed Bathory Boarding School. Nash is competing to be Head Girl, no easy feat when you consider the competition that surrounds her - conniving, ego-centric girls that will high five you with one hand and stab you in the back with a compass with the other.
Then there's Maggie, Nash's only real friend at Bathory. Maggie has issues, in that she appears to be desperate to leave Bathory under any means necessary. This includes violating every rule possible, resulting in the girls having all of their internet and mobile phone privileges removed by the school's Matron.
Nash has bigger fish to fry, though. Her brother, Seb, has gone missing on a trip to South America, the only contact she has with her parents is on a shoddy pay phone in the school's reception area. Added to this, she's convinced she saw something in the woods one evening after her school netball game. Something big, something with yellow eyes. Her instincts tell her it's nothing, a trick of her imagination, but there's also a part of her brain that tells her it could be the fabled "Beast of Bathory," a gigantic cat-like creature that prowls the area, feeding on unsuspecting tourists and students.
Nash's only reprieve in the mundane life of a Bathory girl is to travel into the local village to pick up supplies for the Matron. This means she gets to talk to the boy who works in one of the shops, Charlie. Nash is smitten with Charlie and his mysterious good looks, something that's not lost on Maggie and the other girls.
With Christmas approaching, most of the girls leave for home, but not Nash, she's stuck at Bathory because her parents are in South America desperately searching for Seb. Staying behind is her friend Maggie and a small handful of other girls whose parents have yet to arrive to pick them up.
Then, it happens. The snowstorm of the century. Now, I'm from Eastern Canada, and I couldn't help feeling that a lot of these girls' problems could be fixed with a Craftsman snowblower and a little elbow grease, but this England we're talking about here. I've lived in the UK for a few years and have seen bus services shut down after less snow to fill an ice cream cone. So when it snows heavily in this story, I'm sympathetic to the fact that there's literally no way anyone can get in or out of Bathory.
Things go from bad to worse when one of the girls goes missing, the Matron organizes a search party and things get even worse. Think The Shining mixed with The Hound of the Baskervilles and you'll get the idea. No internet, no cell phones, the power is going on and off, people are going missing, it's a glorious mess that will make you happy to be in the warm confines of your bed as you read it.
I'm excited for the release of this novel because I know the teens at my school are going to eat it up. Skuse creates a feeling of claustrophobia and tension that is ratcheted up a notch every chapter. You know things are going to go horribly wrong for the characters yet you can't stop reading, a sign of a great book.
I've come to The Stand late in the game, the original was written before I was born. This copy, the 1,000-plus page behemoth I just put down,is the way King intended it to be released, uncut and without alterations.
You might think it's mad to take on such a task, but as they say in this novel: "Even the company of the mad is better than the company of the dead."
I'll start where King does, with Captain Trips. Captain Trips is the nickname given to the flu. This isn't your chicken-noodle soup, stay home from work kind of flu. No, Captain Trips wipes out 99.4% of the world's population.
The detail that King devotes to Captain Trips' decimation of everyday people's lives is one of the most terrifying things I've ever read, and it's easy to figure out why. We all get sick, everyone gets the flu at some time or another, it's inevitable. Let me tell you, after reading The Stand you'll be squeezing Purell over your Apple Jacks.
Ultimately, this is why this novel strikes such a strong chord: It seems 100% plausible. A super-flu is grown in the bowels of a top secret American military facility and one night it simply gets out, goes home with one of the guards, who takes it home to his wife and baby and boom, you've got yourself mass panic as the world falls into the clutches of an incurable sickness and chaos.
Miraculously, a small handful of people escape Captain Trips' long grasp. They're spread out across the country, but as fate would have it, they eventually find each other.
This would be fine if all they had to do was link arms and embrace a new "Little House On the Prairie" kind of attitude, but no, Captain Trips has opened the door to a thing of pure evil, and his name is Randall Flagg, aka The Walkin' Dude aka The Dark Man. Flagg is a recurring character in several of King's novels, often under different aliases. Flagg is everywhere and nowhere at the same time, he can drive you insane by looking at you, he can control the minds of animals and he has a very, very sick sense of humour. He is probably one of the scariest villains ever created.
Flagg exploits weaknesses in ordinary people, people that have survived Captain Trips but are scared and in desperate need for a leader. People like the Trashcan Man, Lloyd Henry and The Kid (a character so crazy I often wondered if he was the embodiment of The Kid from Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian.)
Using these people, Flagg sets up camp in, where else - Las Vegas, the city of sin. From there, he sets up compound that uses fear and capital punishment (crucifixion) to maintain law and order. Flagg and his lackeys start to compile weapons of mass destruction in order to eliminate the competition, a group of survivors situated in Boulder, Colorado, led by the 108 year-old Mother Abigail Freemantle.
Mother Abigail claims to be a prophet of God, and those that have come to her have done so because their dreams have led them to her. Flagg also invades their dreams, infecting some to act as his spies, sleeper cells that are bent on destroying the "Free Zone" in Boulder.
On Flagg's side is Harold, an awkward, horny teen who falls in love with Frannie, another survivor from his hometown. Frannie eventually rejects Harold and his jealously eventually leads him to Flagg. Harold becomes a pivotal character in the struggle between good and evil in The Stand.
On Abigail's side is Stu Redman, a quiet, strong man whom Frannie falls in love with as they travel to Boulder. Stu eventually becomes the unofficial leader of Abigail's fledgling yet growing community.
After an act of sabotage, Abigail sends her strongest warriors west into the desert to confront Flagg and his henchmen. A showdown of Biblical proportions erupts, but not in the way you might think. It is a test of wills, a test of faith and of the belief that good must triumph at all costs.
I don't know what else to say. The Stand is an absolute masterpiece, it's The Lord of the Rings set in Las Vegas, it's The Book of Revelations packed into a .45 and shot into a hangar full of nuclear weapons. You will root for these characters, you will fall in love with them, you will hate them and you will be scared to death of them because at its core King has written a book about ordinary people surviving a world that has fallen into Hell. You'll find yourself in these pages, because there are little bits of us in every character. I cannot recommend it enough.
The Boy Scout motto is "Be Prepared," but trust me, a team of Samurai-Ninja-Swat Team-Green Berets couldn't be prepared for the horror that is unleashed in Nick Cutter's pedal-to-the-metal shock fest that is The Troop.
The story takes place on Prince Edward Island, an idyllic province on the east coast of Canada. I've been to Prince Edward Island, I grew up on the province next to it. It's a nice place and I have to say that I'm very glad I didn't read The Troop while I was living anywhere near there because I'd probably never go outside again.
The Troop hits the ground running and simply doesn't stop. On the first page we are introduced to a news story about an emaciated man who wanders into a diner and begs to be given as much food as possible. He then goes on to eat everything they've got on the menu. When he is finished he walks outside without paying, steals a truck and disappears into the night. The papers dub him "The Hungry Man," but nobody seems to know who he is or where he came from.
At the same time that The Hungry Man is chowing down in front of a shocked small-town audience, Scoutmaster Tim Riggs is blissfully unaware as he prepares to take a troop of five boy scouts on a "survival weekend" to Falstaff, an uninhabited island that sits a few miles off of P.E.I.
The boys are: Kent, the most popular kid in school and son of the town sheriff. Max and Ephraim, best friends and also pretty popular in school. Max is cool and collected while Ephraim, well, let's just say he has some anger issues. Then there's Shelley, quiet, strange but mostly harmless and Newton, the token group nerd. Newton is very intelligent, resourceful and polite, therefore he takes the brunt of the troop's insults and charlie-horses.
It doesn't take long for the inevitable to happen, The Hungry Man steals a motor boat and makes his way to Falstaff Island and the proverbial poop hits the fan. Honestly, I think this happens on something like page 6.
The next 300 pages are probably the most disturbing, disgusting scenes I've read in a long time. I found myself physically squirming in my chair as the "well, it can't get much worse than that" factor is ratcheted up a notch every few pages.
I really don't want to spoil any of those great scenes for you because you'll only have that feeling once, that feeling of unbelievable dread and panic mixed with the need to find out how on God's green Earth anyone is going to make it out this mess alive.
Cutter's inclusion of newspaper articles, interviews and transcripts of court hearings are a very effective addition to the (in my opinion) timely and interesting backstory, although I found myself flying through these parts in order to get back to Falstaff Island.
If you enjoy great horror, the kind that sticks in a corner of your brain and doesn't quite leave for a few weeks or months, then check out The Troop. Just treat it like certain types of antibiotics, only ingest on an empty stomach.