Step into a world of secrets, folklore and illusions, where nothing is as it seems and magic is at play…
Madame Augustina Pinchbeck, travels the country conjuring the spirits of dearly departed loved ones… for a price. Whilst her ability to contact ghosts is a game of smoke and mirrors, there is real magic behind her tricks too – if you know where to look.
Through a magical trade, she persuades children to part with precious objects, promising to use her powers to help them. But Pinchbeck is a deceiver, instead turning their items into enchanted Cabinets that bind the children to her and into which she can vanish and summon them at will.
When Pinchbeck captures orphan Leander, events are set into motion that see him and his new friends Charlotte and Felix, in a race against time to break Pinchbeck’s spell, before one of them vanishes forever…
The Vanishing Trick is spooky in a marvellously macabre and unsettling way, with a fantastically twisted villain. The story hooked me from the beginning, and the pace really ramps up as the story progresses making it a proper page-turner.
I adored the story, and was drawn in to the gorgeously Gothic, dark, creepy atmosphere from page one. From then, I couldn’t put it down! I really connected with the main character, Leander, right from the off, and felt his plight – positioned as he was – on the bottom rung of Victorian society. The other two protagonists also had a wonderful complexity to them. With each chapter, the perspective shifts from one to the next, and I found them all to be strong characters worthy of carrying a scene. And I had such a soft spot for Felix and his hauntingly beautiful violin-playing and the terrible weight he carries in his soul. I would happily read a whole book just about him!
A chilling ghost story about two abandoned Irish siblings who travel to work as servants at a creepy, crumbling English manor house. But the house and its family are not quite what they seem. Soon the children are confronted by a mysterious spectre and an ancient curse that threatens their very lives. More than just a spooky tale, it’s also a moral fable about human greed and the power of storytelling.
“This is the best book EVER!” (is what I said to my boyfriend after devouring the first half of The Night Gardener at whiplash-inducing speed)
I couldn’t put it down. I tried to, at about 2am whilst frantically blinking away that insufferable pest: sleep. I went to bed, and then five minutes later, the book was open and I was reading ‘just one more chapter’ under the duvet using the torchlight from my phone. The last time I did that, I was ten.
It’s the kind of book that seeps into you and gets under your skin. There’s that prickling sensation. That spidery sense on the back of your neck like someone’s watching. I was double-taking shadows out of the corner of my eye. It is the very best in the creepy, the unsettling and the foreboding. I am so sad it’s over.
If you too want to read this incredible book and then, like me, internally lambaste yourself for reading it too quickly and not making it last, leading to the worst book-hangover of your life, then here are the bookylinks!
Here they are: all the fabulous fiction that got ALL THE STARS from me! They are in no particular order (just the order I read them in) and along with the book’s blurb, you can click through to the Book Depository link should any take your fancy. It’s been so wonderful revisiting the amazing books I read last year, and I hope that among these you find some gems to call ‘your favourite reads’!
They call me Yanka the Bear. Not because of where I was found – only a few people know about that. They call me Yanka the Bear because I am so big and strong.
Found abandoned in a bear cave as a baby, Yanka has always wondered about where she is from. She tries to ignore the strange whispers and looks from the villagers, wishing she was as strong on the inside as she is on the outside. But, when she has to flee her house, looking for answers about who she really is, a journey far beyond one that she ever imagined begins: from icy rivers to smouldering mountains meeting an ever-growing herd of extraordinary friends along the way.
From fixing the class computer to repairing old radios, twelve-year-old Iris is a tech genius. But she’s the only deaf person in her school, so people often treat her like she’s not very smart. If you’ve ever felt like no-one was listening to you, then you know how hard that can be.
When she learns about Blue 55, a real whale who is unable to speak to other whales, Iris understands how he must feel. Then she has an idea: she should invent a way to “sing” for him! But he’s three thousand miles away. How will she play her song for him?
When Kyle Keeley learns that the world’s world’s most famous game maker, Luigi Lemoncello, has designed the town’s new library and is having an invitation-only lock-in on opening night, Kyle is determined to be there! But the tricky part isn’t getting into the library–it’s getting out. Because when morning comes, the doors stay locked. Kyle and the other kids must catch every clue and solve every puzzle to find the hidden escape route!
When Albie’s mum dies, it’s natural he should wonder where she’s gone. His parents are both scientists and they usually have all the answers. Dad mutters something about Albie’s mum being alive and with them in a parallel universe. So Albie finds a box, his mum’s computer and a rotting banana, and sends himself through time and space to find her…
Harrison Beck is reluctantly joining his travel-writer Uncle Nat for the last journey of the royal train, The Highland Falcon. But as the train makes its way to Scotland, a priceless brooch goes missing, and things are suddenly a lot more interesting. As suspicions and accusations run high among the passengers, Harrison begins to investigate and uncovers a few surprises along the way. Can he solve the mystery of the jewel thief and catch the culprit before they reach the end of the line?
October, 1916. Clara is sent to stay with her formidable aunt and uncle in the grounds of a country estate. Clara soon discovers that her new surroundings hold secrets: a locked room and a hidden key, and a mysterious boy who only appears in the gardens at night… But can Clara face up to her own secrets, and a war she’s desperate to forget?
For twelve-year-old Emily, the best thing about moving to San Francisco is that it’s the home city of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, book publisher and creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger (a game where books are hidden in cities all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles). Upon arriving, however, Emily learns that Griswold has been attacked, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch. Then Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they come to believe is from Griswold himself. Racing against time, Emily and James try to uncover the secret at the heart of Griswold’s new game-before Griswold’s attackers find them.
Brat has always lived in the isolated castle on the island, taking care of the vicious creatures that his master creates, waiting in terror for the moment when they are ready to be put to use. But then the unthinkable happens. The monsters get out. Now Brat must overcome his fears, and venture into the world he has hidden from his whole life. For the fate of everyone rests on his shoulders alone. . .
This is what he remembers, as he sits by the ocean at the end of the lane:
A dead man on the back seat of the car, and warm milk at the farmhouse. An ancient little girl, and an old woman who saw the moon being made. A beautiful housekeeper with a monstrous smile. And dark forces woken that were best left undisturbed.
They are memories hard to believe, waiting at the edge of things. The recollections of a man who thought he was lost but is now, perhaps, remembering a time when he was saved…
When a baby escapes a murderer intent on killing the entire family, who would have thought it would find safety and security in the local graveyard? Brought up by the resident ghosts, ghouls and spectres, Bod has an eccentric childhood learning about life from the dead. But for Bod there is also the danger of the murderer still looking for him – after all, he is the last remaining member of the family. A stunningly original novel deftly constructed over eight chapters, featuring every second year of Bod’s life, from babyhood to adolescence. Will Bod survive to be a man?
When twelve-year-old, UFO-obsessed, Lucy Sladan sneaks out in the middle of a thunderstorm to investigate the unexplained disappearances in her hometown of Sticky Pines, she finds more than she bargained for: a huge hairy creature, a thirteen-year-old stranger named Milo Fisher and a deep-rooted secret. Together, Lucy and Milo become entwined in a mystery that threatens to engulf the whole town of Sticky Pines and its weird and wonderful residents.
JUNE, 1905. Helena and her parrot, Orbit, are swept off to Cambridge when her father is appointed clock-winder to one of the wealthiest men in England. There is only one rule: the clocks must never stop. But Helena discovers the house of one hundred clocks holds many mysteries; a ghostly figure, strange notes and disappearing winding keys… Can she work out its secrets before time runs out?
In the small town of Griever’s Mill, eleven-year-old Ben Cameron is expecting to finish off his summer of relaxing and bird-watching without a hitch. But everything goes wrong when dark clouds roll in. Old Man Crandall is the first to change — human one minute and a glass statue the next. Soon it’s happening across the world. Dark clouds fill the sky and, at random, people are turned into frozen versions of themselves. There’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and no one knows how to stop it.With his mom on the verge of a breakdown, and his brother intent on following the dubious plans put forth by a nameless voice on the radio, Ben must hold out hope that his town’s missing sparrows will return with everyone’s souls before the glass plague takes them away forever.
Every four years, two girls are kidnapped from the village of Gavaldon. Legend has it these lost children are sent to the School for Good and Evil, the fabled institution where they become fairytale heroes or villains.
With her glass slippers and devotion to good deeds, Sophie knows she’ll join the ranks of past students like Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Snow White at the School for Good. Meanwhile, Agatha, with her shapeless black dresses and wicked black cat, seems a natural fit for the villains in the School for Evil.
But the two girls soon find their fortunes reversed – Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School for Good, thrust among handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.
But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are?
Orphan Elizabeth Somers’s malevolent aunt and uncle ship her off to the ominous Winterhouse Hotel, owned by the peculiar Norbridge Falls. Upon arrival, Elizabeth quickly discovers that Winterhouse has many charms–most notably its massive library. It’s not long before she locates a magical book of puzzles that will unlock a mystery involving Norbridge and his sinister family. But the deeper she delves into the hotel’s secrets, the more Elizabeth starts to realize that she is somehow connected to Winterhouse. As fate would have it, Elizabeth is the only person who can break the hotel’s curse and solve the mystery. But will it be at the cost of losing the people she has come to care for, and even Winterhouse itself?
Even though his awful Great-Aunt Gertrudis doesn’t approve, Micah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other–the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real. And the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle. With his friend Jenny Mendoza in tow, Micah sets out to find the Circus and the man he believes will save his grandfather. The only problem is, the Lightbender doesn’t want to keep his promise. And now it’s up to Micah to get the miracle he came for.
Ever since Cass almost drowned (okay, she did drown, but she doesn’t like to think about it), she can pull back the Veil that separates the living from the dead… and enter the world of spirits. Her best friend is even a ghost.
So things are already pretty strange. But they’re about to get much stranger. When Cass’s parents start hosting a TV show about the world’s most haunted places, the family heads off to Edinburgh, Scotland. Here, graveyards, castles, and secret passageways teem with restless phantoms. And when Cass meets a girl who shares her “gift,” she realizes how much she still has to learn about the Veil — and herself.
And she’ll have to learn fast. The city of ghosts is more dangerous than she ever imagined.
1943. As war sweeps across Europe, Max Carver’s father moves his family away from the city, to an old wooden house on the coast. But as soon as they arrive, strange things begin to happen: Max discovers a garden filled with eerie statues; his sisters are plagued by unsettling dreams and voices; a box of old films opens a window to the past.
Most unsettling of all are rumours about the previous owners and the mysterious disappearance of their son. As Max delves into the past, he encounters the terrifying story of the Prince of Mist, a sinister shadow who emerges from the night to settle old scores, then disappears with the first mists of dawn . . .
After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie who only finds solace in books discovers a chilling ghost story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who loved her, and a peculiar deal made with the smiling man–a sinister spectre who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price.
Captivated by the tale, Ollie begins to wonder if the smiling man might be real when she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she’s been reading about on a school trip to a nearby farm. Then, later, when her school bus breaks down on the ride home, the strange bus driver tells Ollie and her classmates: Best get moving. At nightfall they’ll come for the rest of you. Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when Ollie’s previously broken digital wristwatch begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN.
Only Ollie and two of her classmates heed these warnings. As the trio head out into the woods–bordered by a field of scarecrows that seem to be watching them–the bus driver has just one final piece of advice for Ollie and her friends: Avoid large places. Keep to small.
There is something strange about Coraline’s new home.
It’s not the mist, or the cat that always seems to be watching her, nor the signs of danger that Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, her new neighbours, read in the tea leaves. It’s the other house – the one behind the old door in the drawing room. Another mother and father with black-button eyes and papery skin are waiting for Coraline to join them there. And they want her to stay with them. For ever. She knows that if she ventures through that door, she may never come back.
Who is the mysterious bloodstained man who stops their coach? Why is no one around when Lance and the rest of Year Six arrive at the brand new Crater Lake activity centre? But this is just the beginning of the school trip from hell; a fight for survival that sees five pupils band together to save their classmates from an alien fate far worse than death. But whatever happens, they must Never. Ever. Fall asleep!
The two friends follow a trail of clues, inadvertently attracting the attention of a suspicious new hotel guest: Elana Vesper. The clock is ticking as Elizabeth and Freddy struggle to figure out whether Elana is merely a pawn or a player in the plot to revive the spirit of Gracella. If that wasn’t enough, Elizabeth suspects she is coming into her own special powers – and she’s fearful it might lead her right into Gracella’s vicious web.
Sam and Lizzie are freezing and hungry on the streets of Victorian London. When Sam asks a wealthy man for some coins, he is rudely turned away. Months of struggle suddenly find their focus, and Sam resolves to kill the man. Huddling in a graveyard for warmth, Sam and Lizzie are horrified to see the earth around one of the tombs begin to shift, shortly followed by the wraithlike figure of a ghostly man. He warns Sam about the future which awaits such a bitter heart, and so begins Sam’s journey led by terrifying spirits through the past, present and future, after which Sam must decide whether to take the man, Scrooge’s, life or not.
When a bullying incident sends twelve year-old Nico Holland over the edge of a cliff into the icy waters of Still Cove, where no one ever goes, friends Tyler and Ella – and even ‘cool kid’ Opal – rush to his rescue . . . only to discover an island hidden in the swirling mists below.
Shrouded by dense trees and murky tides, the island appears uninhabited, although the kids can’t quite shake the feeling that something about it is off. Their suspicions grow when they stumble upon an abandoned houseboat with an array of curiosities inside: odd-looking weapons, unnerving portraits, maps to places they’ve never heard of, and a glass jar containing something completely unidentifiable. As the group delves deeper into the unknown, their discoveries – and their lives – begin to intertwine in weird and spooky ways. Something ancient has awakened . . . and it knows their wishes and dreams – and their deepest secrets. Do they have what it takes to face the shadowy things that lurk within their own hearts?
It’s a dark and lonely Christmas Eve in the dining room of ancient Soul’s College. The kitchen boy, 11-year-old Lewis, has helped prepare a highly unusual meal, made with unrecognisable ingredients, cooked by a mysterious chef. And then the guests arrive … and carnage ensues. They are ex-students of Soul’s College, and they are all completely demented. They demand bottle after bottle of wine, flinging their cutlery and howling like banshees until … silence. The Dean of Soul’s College has arrived, and the evening’s ceremonies must begin.
For this is the annual meeting of a secret club for those who despise children, warmth, happiness, and above all Christmas. Each member must try to outdo the others by telling the most terrible, disgusting story they know.
Aveline Jones loves reading ghost stories, so a dreary half-term becomes much more exciting when she discovers a spooky old book. Not only are the stories spine-tingling, but it once belonged to Primrose Penberthy, who vanished mysteriously, never to be seen again. Intrigued, Aveline decides to investigate Primrose’s disappearance. Now someone…or something, is stirring. And it is looking for Aveline.
Trouble is haunting Cassidy Blake . . . even more than usual.
She (plus her ghost best friend, Jacob, of course) are in Paris, where Cass’s parents are filming their TV show about the world’s most haunted cities. Sure, it’s fun eating croissants and seeing the Eiffel Tower, but there’s true ghostly danger lurking beneath Paris, in the creepy underground Catacombs.
When Cass accidentally awakens a frighteningly strong spirit, she must rely on her still-growing skills as a ghosthunter — and turn to friends both old and new to help her unravel a mystery. But time is running out, and the spirit is only growing stronger.
And if Cass fails, the force she’s unleashed could haunt the city forever.
On a dark and lonely Christmas Eve… In an ancient dining room of an ancient college… Lewis, the kitchen boy, is helping to prepare a highly unusual feast.
For tonight is the meeting of a secret club for those who despise children, warmth, happiness, and above all, CHRISTMAS.
Each guest must compete to tell the most terrifying, gruesome tale they know…
Who will win? And how will Lewis ever get out alive?
I love Christmas, like, love it, so if you want to talk about joy and love and candy-canes – then I’ll be there with jingle bells on! But, I hope we can all agree there’s nothing better than when Christmas goes creepy.
Christmas Dinner of Souls is gloriously dark and deliciously macabre. I devoured it! The format is brilliant, with seven dinner guests tasked with having to tell their most gruesome Christmas story. Some of those stories are seriously chilling. Some of them are downright terrifying!
This is definitely a read-aloud book. I’m already planning Christmas Eve: with hot chocolate, and blankets, and Christmas Dinner of Souls by Ross Montgomery. If you’re craving a spine-chilling story this Christmas, maybe something weird and wonderfully horrible, then I wholeheartedly recommend this book!
Even though his awful Great-Aunt Gertrudis doesn’t approve, Micah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other—the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real. And the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle. With his friend Jenny Mendoza in tow, Micah sets out to find the Circus and the man he believes will save his grandfather.
The only problem is, the Lightbender doesn’t want to keep his promise. And now it’s up to Micah to get the miracle he came for.
It was super late at night when I started this book, and I said to myself, “I’m just gonna read a page or two of Circus Mirandus…”
FIFTY PAGES LATER and this utterly irresistible story of a magic circus, friendship, and a boy’s love for his grandad, had completely stolen my heart. And then of course, I start panicking, because fifty pages had flown by in the blink of an eye, and I NEVER WANTED THIS BOOK TO END. Needless to say, the next day I had the biggest book-hangover of my life.
Every page of this book is captivating and enchanting and magical, interspersed with some desperately poignant moments that’ll find you all glassy-eyed. I have no doubt Circus Mirandus will stay with me for a long time to come.
Orphan Elizabeth Somers’s malevolent aunt and uncle ship her off to the ominous Winterhouse Hotel, owned by the peculiar Norbridge Falls. Upon arrival, Elizabeth quickly discovers that Winterhouse has many charms―most notably its massive library. It’s not long before she locates a magical book of puzzles that will unlock a mystery involving Norbridge and his sinister family. But the deeper she delves into the hotel’s secrets, the more Elizabeth starts to realize that she is somehow connected to Winterhouse. As fate would have it, Elizabeth is the only person who can break the hotel’s curse and solve the mystery. But will it be at the cost of losing the people she has come to care for, and even Winterhouse itself?
I absolutely adored this book! It has all the magic ingredients that made me devour it in a matter of hours! Firstly, it’s set in a sprawling mansion chock-full of mystery. And there’s an epic library; like, Beauty and the Beast epic. There are clues to find and puzzles to solve. There’s something a bit ghostly going on. Plus, you’ll find sinister characters around every corner, and everyone seems to have a secret. This book is quirky and eccentric and dark and creepy. I tried my best to unravel the clues, but it had me guessing until the end. Hands down one of my favourite reads of the year so far!
Mr Willy Wonka is the most extraordinary chocolate maker in the world.
And do you know who Charlie is? Charlie Bucket is the hero. The other children in this book are nasty little beasts, called: Augustus Gloop – a great big greedy nincompoop; Veruca Salt – a spoiled brat; Violet Beauregarde – a repulsive little gum-chewer; Mike Teavee – a boy who only watches television.
Clutching their Golden Tickets, they arrive at Wonka’s chocolate factory. But what mysterious secrets will they discover?
Our tour is about to begin. Please don’t wander off. Mr Wonka wouldn’t like to lose any of you at this stage of the proceedings . . .
I’m going to try not to get too misty-eyed here, because Roald Dahl is my HERO. And Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is my FAVOURITE. Everyone should read this book, at least once!
I remember going to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, as much as I remember my first day of school, or when I got my Sports Day ‘participation trophy’, or when I broke the class fish. Roald Dahl’s books are a PART of my childhood; they held my hand through my growing-up-ness.
And when it comes to Dahl’s books, nothing gets my tummy rumbling more than his gloriumptious, scrumdiddlyumptious Chocolate Factory! There’s lickable wallpaper, hot icecream, A CHOCOLATE RIVER! It all starts with those five golden tickets: five chances to enter a world of pure imagination.
I’d give anything for a Golden Ticket… ANYTHING!
FUN FACT! Did you know that in 1971, Roald Dahl received a Christmas card from a real-life Willy Wonka! He was a postman from Nebraska, and no doubt, was inspired to write to the author after the release of the amazingly splendiferous Gene Wilder movie. And Roald Dahl kept the postcard tacked to the wall of his writing hut.
This book really knocked me for six. I’d stumbled upon it in the wonderful world of Twitter and pounced. It was in my library faster than you can say, “Aaaaah! Monster!” And when I started reading it, I didn’t stop.
The Maker of Monsters is my kind of book. It’s fast-paced (Rhosgobel rabbits, fast) and there’s more action than you can shake a stick at. The whole book is a rip-roaring rollercoaster, dragging your emotions through heartache, hope, kindness… and MONSTERS!
Think ‘Frankenstein’, but with a sugar-rush.
The characters are so well-imagined that within a few pages I felt like I’d known them all my life. Sherman and Tingle, two of the sweetest monsters, were my favourites. I spent the entire book wanting to take them home with me! This book is a must-read.
I laughed, I shed a tear; The Maker of Monsters has it all.
Helena and her parrot, Orbit, are swept off to Cambridge when her father is appointed clock-winder to one of the wealthiest men in England. There is only one rule: the clocks must never stop.
But Helena discovers the house of one hundred clocks holds many mysteries; a ghostly figure, strange notes and disappearing winding keys… Can she work out its secrets before time runs out?
Blurb of The House of One Hundred Clocks by A.M. Howell, from the author’s website.
Edwardian setting, creepy house, one hundred clocks and THEY’RE NOT ALLOWED TO STOP. Yep, The House of One Hundred Clocks had me hooked from the off.
There’s a Hitchcock-level of tension in this book. You’re kept in a constant state of suspense. You know that the clocks can’t stop and at many points during this read I found myself hoping they didn’t. It’s not often that I’ll read a book and hope that nothing happens! But the characters were so well portrayed, that I very quickly connected with them and put myself firmly on their team.
Add to that, the evolution and trappings of Edwardian society: glimpses of invention, of poverty, and rising feminism, all carefully woven into the story, makes this a must-read for all. Here are the bookylinks:
Twelve-year-old Emily is on the move again. Her family is relocating to San Francisco, home of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger, a game where books are hidden all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles. But Emily soon learns that Griswold has been attacked and is in a coma, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch. Then Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they come to believe is from Griswold and leads to a valuable prize. But there are others on the hunt for this book, and Emily and James must race to solve the puzzles Griswold left behind before Griswold’s attackers make them their next target.
When I read the blurb, I knew I was going to love this book.
At late-o’clock, when I should have been asleep, I was devouring the first few chapters of this book. I entered a world of scavenger hunts, cryptic clues, weird and wonderful literary types, and general bookishness, and honestly, I never wanted to leave.
The moment I truly fell in love with this book, was when I met Steve. He’s James’ cowlick. And the minute I read that, I grinned. This was my kind of book! Those little injections of humour were the icing on a fabulous book-cake for me.
Joining Emily and James on their frenzied hunt around San Francisco for the next clue, was fun. It was hectic, edge-of-your-seat fun-fun-fun, where you always have someone on your tail so you push-your-neck-out-to-keep-a-fraction-ahead kind of fun. It is adventure with a capital A. I am head-over-heels in love with this book, and now I want more.