Haunted by William Hussey

Haunted-5-front-only

Milton Lake is a seemingly ordinary town, where tales of hauntings and strange goings on ripple beneath the surface. When a mysterious boy comes to town and moves into a large, derelict house, all alone, his arrival changes everything.

Shrouded in secrecy, he senses a kindred spirit in Emma Rhodes, and reveals to her a shocking truth.

Someone in Milton Lake is using the fabled Ghost Machine to call the spirits of the dead back to our world. Now it is up to these two lost souls to find out who is operating the strange invention before it is too late . . .

For call by call, the dead will be unleashed.

This story starts with a prologue; in order to join the Chainsaw Gang Henry Torve has to walk through the abandoned funfair to the Horror House ghost train and bring back one of the waxworks heads. But Henry finds more than he bargained for.

It’s a brilliant start that sets the pace for a super spooky story complete with a haunted house, soul seeking ghosts, and plenty of mysteries to solve before you reach the final page.

The story revolves around sixteen year old Emma Rhodes, a girl living in torment because she believes she is responsible for her little brother’s death twelve months before. Locked in her grief she has become withdrawn and friendless. Then a young enigmatic American boy, Nicholas Redway, moves into the derelict house across the road from Emma’s. It’s not long before supernatural forces bring them together and they begin bashing the hell out of the town’s flesh loving spirits.

But why is the town of Milton Lake beset with ghosts and ghouls? Well, and here’s the bit I loved so much, someone has discovered the legendary Ghost Machine that Thomas Edison had created and is summoning the dead from beyond the grave. Just including that little bit of historical fact (Edison called for a press gathering to talk about his invention but its existence was never proved) gives the story added spice.

The world Mr Hussey has created has an old fashioned feel, as if Miss Marple will come ambling round the corner any minute and do some sleuthing. But Emma’s determination and gutsy kick-ass style is very definitely 21st century.

This book was so good that once I’d settled down in my basket to read it I didn’t hear the word “walkies” being called. Yes, I was that engrossed.

Just don’t read it before you put the lights out!

Mischa reviews Haunted

 The Literary Lurcher was Spooked Out by Haunted.

Do you like the blood spattered effects? Muwhahaha!

Please buy your books from your local bookshop or check out The Hive where online shopping supports independent book stores.

Happy Halloween everyone.

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Valkyrie By Kate O’Hearn

This is the story of Freya who was born to be a Valkyrie; chooser of the slain, reaper of souls. But on the eve of her fourteenth birthday, the official end of her childhood and the start of her life as a fully-fledged Valkyrie, Freya confesses her fears to her older sister Maya.

“I hate the warriors and I hate all the killing and wounding. Humans are bloodthirsty monsters. I don’t want to touch them or be part of bringing more of them here.”

But of course Freya has to follow her destiny and on her first mission she reaps the soul of a young soldier who begs her to help the family he is about to leave behind. Freya is shocked that this man is fighting to live, not for himself but for others. He is nothing like the warriors in Valhalla. So she promises to do all she can to protect his family. This heartfelt pledge sends Freya out of Asgard and to Earth on a desperate quest where she finds out what it really means to be human.

On one level this is a fast action adventure where a powerful supernatural being comes to the rescue of a group of bullied children. But it also deals with the rather dark side of human nature; an absent alcoholic mother, a bully who won’t see reason and the fear of homelessness.  Dig deeper and you see it’s about understanding who you are, what you are capable of and the power of friendship. Cleverly interwoven in this contemporary world are the characters of Norse mythology; Odin, Thor, and Loki all making an appearance. Even the Midgard Serpent is released to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting Chicago.

Being a dog I feel I have much in common with Freya. I am often left wondering about you humans and what makes you tick. I also know what it’s like to want to fit in with the pack, to not be bullied and make sense of one’s place in the world. This is something most young pups can relate to and Kate O’Hearn  has done a fabulous job of reinventing the characters of an age old Norse myth so they have relevance in the 21st Century.

If you are looking for something to recommend to confident readers or to read aloud to younger pups (while being entertained yourself) go grab a copy.

The Literary Lurcher loved Valkyrie

Please buy your books from your local bookshop or check out The Hive where online shopping supports independent book stores.

Stick Dog by Tom Watson

It says on the front of this book that it is “A really GOOD story with kind of BAD drawings.”

Well, straight away I have to disagree; this is a really HILARIOUS story with GOOD drawings.”

Stick Dog lives in an empty pipe that runs under Highway 16. Although he doesn’t have a human family he does have four brilliant friends; Poo-Poo the Poodle, Stripes the Dalmatian, Karen the Dachshund and Mutt who is a…mutt and they LOVE food. In this story (there are more to come) Stick Dog has caught the scent of burgers sizzling on a barbecue in the park and he’s got to have one. But he knows humans won’t just share so the five friends have to come up with a plan to steal the burgers. That’s it…that’s the story. But it is so entertaining and has genuine laugh out loud moments.

The narrator is a boy who has written the story and drawn the pictures. In fact the book looks like an exercise book complete with lined pages. He apologizes for what he thinks are rubbish drawings explaining he can only draw stick figures and stick dogs, hence the name of the main character. But they are actually very good drawings so I don’t think his art teacher knows anything. His English teacher also doesn’t know anything and the story is told in a way that the teacher wouldn’t like but that I think is just right. Occasionally the narrator speaks directly to the reader making them feel part of the story and explaining things they might not understand.

Stick Dog is the leader of the gang and I admired the way he got the best out of his hair brained companions. They all came up with different, hilarious yet totally useless plans but Stick Dog never belittles them. It is through their plotting and scheming that we find out so much about their characters and I loved each and every one.

The reader is never spoken down to, in fact there is a good use of vocabulary that for me, as a dog, really stretched me. For instance effervescent. It’s ok to look words up. In fact my most favourite part was Stick Dog asking his pals what the word distraction meant. You’ve got to read this just to find out what Karen’s reply was.

Seriously, this is a funny book. It’s great for young people who are just starting to read by themselves and still enjoy pictures to help tell a story. It’s also great for grown ups who haven’t really grown up. There was one thing that troubled me though. Chapter 3 page 31 says. ” If you are a dog reading this story then you should probably stop right now. You may not know this , but dogs that read are extremely rare. And that means you have the opportunity to become rich and famous” Hmmmm.

Also there are no Skinny Dogs in this book so I thought I would have a go at drawing me as a stick dog. It’s harder than you think.

Mischa the Stick Dog

Any way, I loved this book and guess what?  Stick Dog and his pals have their own website which you can find here AND the sequel, Stick Dog Wants a Hot Dog, came out yesterday.

It’s my birthday today and I got some Cumberland sausages so I’m heading down to my local bookshop to see if they’ll swap two sausages for Stick Dog 2. Seems only fair.

Mischa reads Stick Dog

The Literary Lurcher LOVES Stick Dog.

Please buy your books from your local bookshop or check out The Hive where online shopping supports independent book stores.

 

Black Dog by Levi Pinfold

“This book is about being scared, or not being scared. It depends on how you see things.”

I’m scared of fireworks and Christmas Crackers. More recently rifles and vintage motorbikes back firing but that’s another story. In Mr Pinfold’s story the Hope family are scared of a Black Dog, a black dog that grows at every turn of the page. As their fears escalate so does the size of the dog. The youngest member of the family, Small Hope, sees things differently. She pulls on her boots, mittens and delightful yellow coat and heads out into the snow to confront the beast.

Illustration by Levi Pinfold via Arena Illustration Blog

Illustration by Levi Pinfold via Arena Illustration Blog

The illustrations are truly beautiful. From the tiny sepia sketches, to the colourful full page and double page spreads. They are so detailed with lots for a skinny dog to drool over. (Not literally, I do take care of my books.) Mr Pinfold paints them with tempera which is made from eggs. So they must taste as good as they look. (Oh dear, I’m drooling again.) They have a timeless, fairy-tale quality and I imagine they take an awful long time to complete too.  I would like to live in the Hope’s house. It looks so warm and cosy and the grown ups keep dropping food and drinks all over the floor, which would mean tasty snacks for me. Although I might have to fight the two cats for them.

Other people must think this book is good too because Mr Pinfold has just won the Kate Greenaway Medal for most excellent drawings in a book in the whole of 2013.

You can find out all about Levi Pinfold here and I would advise you take a peek right now.

The Literary Lurcher LOVES this book

The Literary Lurcher LOVES this book

 

Please buy your books from your local book shop. Or check out The Hive where online shopping supports independent book stores.