GRAVE MATTER (Book Review)

Written by: Juno Dawson

Illustrated by: Alex T. Smith

Published in the UK in 2018 by: Barrington Stoke

Pages: 140


REOPENING THE DOOR

“That future wasn’t meant to be and I was an arrogant fool to challenge fate.”

A brief-yet-pointedly macabre horror novella spread over just 140 occasionally-illustrated yellow-hued pages, young adult author Juno Dawson’s twisted tale of first loves lost and best left lost is a quick read perfectly suited to entice reading adverse older teens and dyslexics alike.

… Keep Scuttling!

THORNHILL (Book Review)

Written and illustrated by: Pam Smy

Published in the UK by: David Fickling Books / Publication date: 27th August 2017

Pages: 544


A TIMELESS FRIENDSHIP

Weighing in at a daunting 544 pages, APU graduate and Cambridge lecturer Pam Smy’s debut solo work (the first she has both written and illustrated) is actually a deceptively quick read, and one which I blasted through in a matter of hours.

… Keep Scuttling!

DRAGON TEETH (Book Review)

Written by: Michael Crichton

Released in the UK by: HarperCollins, 1st June 2017

285 pages


 

BARE BONES

Following buccaneering adventure Pirate Latitudes and shrink-ray techno-thriller Micro, Dragon Teeth is the third posthumously released and previously undiscovered novel from prolific author, screenwriter and director Michael Crichton since his 2009 passing. Despite exhibiting a wealth of research, this historical Western archaeology lark is – by some degree – the least accomplished of the three, and a far cry from the bestselling scribe’s other dinosaur adventures.

… Keep Scuttling!

Flesh and Blood (Book Review)

Written and illustrated by: Chris Priestley

Published in the UK by: Barrington Stoke, 15th April 2017

121 pages


 

BEHIND THE MASK

The first of three new releases from the macabre mind of Anything That Isn’t This author and illustrator Chris Priestley to fill children and young adults with equal measures of fear and wonder in 2017, this dyslexic-friendly “easy reader” from publishers Barrington Stoke may be the shortest and most simplistic, but Flesh and Blood does not suffer for its ease of accessibility.

… Keep Scuttling!

Swallows and Amazons (DVD Review)

Image result for swallows and amazons 2016

PG – 93mins – 2016


THE UNDISCOVERED ISLAND

Following a beloved 1974 adaptation, Arthur Ransome’s classic children’s book gets its second silver screen outing courtesy of screenwriter Andrea Gibb and TV director Philippa Lowthorpe, in her feature film debut. Andrew Sherlock Scott, Rafe The BFG Spall, Kelly Special Correspondents Macdonald, Jessica Bridget Jones’s Baby Hynes and Harry Upstart Crow Enfield add star clout in supporting roles, but the plucky kids are the real driving force here.

… Keep Scuttling!

CARNIVORE Release Day!

img_2089FINGER LICKIN’ FESTIVE FRIGHTENER

Can a ride on THE ROAD TO HELL turn the principles of a strict vegetarian upside down?

On the first day of advent your good CR@B gave to thee… news of a festive short story you can download for FREE!

That’s right folks, December 1st 2016 marks not only the first door you get to open on your advent calendar but also the Book Birthday of my first ever officially published eBook!

img_2090Carnivore is a Christmas horror story with added BITE and it is available to download and loan from Suffolk Libraries’ Overdrive website for all who own a library card. A direct link to the book’s page is HERE and a list of installation instructions for the app and all compatible tablets, smartphones, eReaders and PCs is HERE.

I realise this method is a little restrictive to those who live further afield, but as a first step towards publication I am majorly chuffed that an example of my fiction is out there to be DEVOURED by the hungry masses…

Happy Horror-days!

Fire Witch (Book Review)

Written by: Matt Ralphs, 2016

Published in the UK by: Macmillan Children Books

Pages: 276


Image result for fire witch book

NO ORDINARY GIRL

In the Acknowledgements at the rear of Matt Ralphs’ recent sequel to his 2015 breakout hit, Fire Girl (which I reviewed HERE), the blossoming children’s author openly acknowledges the “breakneck speed” at which his editors at Macmillan Children’s Books dictated he write the follow up. Whereas he was able to spend close to five years “scribbling feverishly” on his debut during his spare time, following a publication deal he had a turnaround period of just one-fifth of that time in which to spin a successive yarn.

… Keep Scuttling!

The Pier Falls (Book Review)

Written by: Mark Haddon, 2016

Published in the UK by: Jonathan Cape/Penguin Random House

Pages: 347


From the historical disaster account of the titular tale to quasi-supernatural psychological horror (“Wodwo”) via tragic almost-romances (“Bunny”, “The Weir”), this selection of nine short stories from the pen of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time scribe Mark Haddon must be commended for the astounding diversity of their perspectives and authorial voices – even if they don’t necessarily sit well alongside one another in this recent hardback collection from Jonathan Cape.

… Keep Scuttling!

Whisper of the Heart (DVD Review)

U – 111mins – 1995


 

IF YOU LISTEN CLOSELY

“I finally thought I was going to get a little adventure around here…”

Juggling domestic duties and revision while consumed by her passion for classic fantasy literature and lyrical translation, restless high school junior and avid bookworm Shizuku Tsukishima’s (Brittany Snow) grades are slipping as her entrance exams are nearing.

… Keep Scuttling!

The Monstrous Child (Book Review)

Written by: Francesca Simon

Illustrations by: Olivia Lomenech Gill

Published in the UK by: Faber & Faber and Profile Books, 2016

287 pages 


 

HEL HATH NO FURY LIKE A TEENAGER SCORNED

Embarrassed by her parents, peeved at her violent brothers, lonely, hateful and self-deprecating, Hel sounds like any normal teenage girl… except her father is a god, her mother a giant, one brother a wolf and the other a snake… Oh, and she’s half rotting  corpse! Meet Hel, Queen of the Dead, ruler of the Underworld and general cynical soul.

This curious genre-mashup of dysfunctional family drama, growing pains memoir and biblical fantasy comes from the rebellious mind of globally-bestselling Horrid Henry author Francesca Simon. The Monstrous Child is her first book for the booming Y.A. demographic.

With short pages and a large font type, the near-300 pages fly by – the swift pace accelerated by some scathingly wry black humour from Hel’s first person perspective. This is her tetchy testament and she demands you listen as she moans on about being banished from Asgard to the depths of her own self-named kingdom of ‘Hel’.

“I spent an eternity of hating… I spent eternity lying on a stinking bed. Sunk into myself, plotting and moaning and… dying.”

Dividing her time between fawning after the only person she has ever felt any feeling of love and joy towards (the charming but already-married Baldr) and moaning about her agonising eternity of isolation with only a dragon, a monstrous howling mutt and two near-static slaves for “company”, the book’s rapid tempo does little to enforce Hel’s timeless torment as the ages creep by towards The End of Days.

It’s also fair to say that as clever as the concept is, the novel does begin to feel a little repetitive at times, with Hel’s fixation on her niggles and teenage tendency to mope in her chamber with her bed hangings drawn (which she has sarcastically nicknamed Glimmering Misfortune) occasionally slowing down the procession of her life(less) story.

Essentially a diary of a teenage goddess, The Monstrous Child is a decent and well-observed experiment which will certainly leaving you smirking at its cruel, pitch-black sense of humour. However, it does also feel like more of a one-joke short story concept spread painfully thin – even if the hardback release does look glorious.

CR@B’s Claw Score: 3 stars