Priestly, Chris. The Dead of Winter.
In Victorian London, Michael's mother dies, leaving him an orphan, since his father was killed in a war. Luckily, he died saving Sir Stephen Clarendon, and this gentleman is now going to take Michael in. Michael ventures out to the windswept moors where Sir Stephen lives with his sister Charlotte and a variety of caretakers, and will stay until it is time for him to go to boarding school. All is not well at Hawton Mere-- Sir Stephen is haggard and haunted, and Michael soon is hearing noises and seeing visions in the house as well. It is known that Sir Stephen was abused by a controlling father as a young boy, and that his wife committed suicide, but what else is going on in the house? If Michael figures everything out, will he be able to survive?
Strengths: Fantastic cover! This is one that students will definitely pick up. The story pulled me in very quickly, throwing intriguing bits of information at me just when I was getting a bit tired of hanging about the manor house hearing noises. First rate.
WeaknessesThe Victorian Era is not quite as intriguing to students as it is to me, but fans of Lemony Snicket will like this one.
Ness, Patrick. A Monster Calls.
Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd
Conor’s mother is dying of cancer, and the end is coming more quickly than Conor is willing to admit. His father has come in from America for a rare visit, and his grandmother is trying to prepare Conor for the fact that he is going to have to come and live with her. During all of this, Conor is having strange nightmares about the yew tree in his yard. It haunts him nightly, telling him strange stories and distracting him from the other things going on in his life, like the troubles he has at school and his difficulties with friends. As his mother’s situation worsens, so do the dreams.
Strengths: This is a beautiful book, with gorgeous plates on heavy paper, and the writing is lyrical and a great tribute to Ms. Dowd, who passed away in 2007 after a battle with cancer.
Weaknesses: This looks like it should be a super scary horror book, and it is really more of a problem novel. This makes finding an audience for it a bit tricky.
Everyone seems to have liked this much more than I did, including
Alison’s Book Marks ,Book Duck , Cannon Ball Read 4 , Novel Novice and The Readventurer .
Murphy, Glen. Stuff that Scares your Pants Off!
This compendium of things that people find scary covers the science of fear and supports that information with statistics. For instance, in the chapter about fear of animals, it gives statistics about chances of being attacked by a shark as compared to a list of top killers in 2003. (Heart disease, cancer and strokes.) The book continues with fear of weather, doctors and diseases, and paranormal phenonmena. There is a ton of information; in fact, probably too much for my readers who are drawn to this type of book. Also, the pictures are in black and white with a touch of lime green-- my students would prefer something like the Guinness Book of World Records, with gross pictures. *Sigh*