Tales of Terror from the Black Ship by Chris Priestley
|Tales of Terror from the Black Ship by Chris Priestley|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Henry James and Edgar Allan Poe eat your heart out. This second volume of macabre tales from Chris Priestley is as chilling as they come. It's very literary horror for children. Super.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: August 2008|
When Ethan and Cathy fall ill, their father braves the storm and sets out from their clifftop inn in search of a doctor. But he's gone for an awfully long time. As they wait, they are surprised by a knock on the door. Jonah Thackeray staggers in, drenched to the skin, and asking for shelter while the storm rages. Thackeray is a sailor with a stock of tales to tell, each of them more macabre than the last.
Between the grisly yarns, Ethan becomes more and more suspicious of Thackeray, but Cathy remains naive and credulous, so enthused by the delicious terror of it all that she just wants more. Eventually though, even she can see that something isn't quite right...
Henry James and Edgar Allan Poe eat your heart out. This second volume of macabre tales from Chris Priestley is as chilling as they come. And they are beautifully illustrated too. Each of the stories within a story gives an increasing sense of unease as little clues reveal more and more of the eventual denouement. Thackeray's tales all have a maritime theme and are set either on board a ship, or on the coast, or have a sailor as the central character. The people he talks of are often flawed, and one mistake or one small act of treachery sets off a tragic chain of events. There's a twist in every tail - and it's invariably a sinister one.
The tone remains quaint and old-fashioned. It's a very literary style for children but each story is just a few pages long so the younger ones won't need to sustain concentration for too long before the unexpected makes them shiver. The older ones won't feel patronised. However, Tales of Terror from the Black Ship is probably one for the keen reader rather than a child who would feel intimidated by the florid, Gothic language.
I'm enjoying this series and I hope there's more to come. It's chilling, it's creepy, and it's also challenging. Good stuff.
My thanks to the nice people at Bloomsbury for sending the book.
If they enjoyed these, they should look at The Ribbajack and Other Curious Yarns by Brian Jacques which has horror and humour in equal measure.
Tales of Terror from the Black Ship by Chris Priestley is in the Booktrust Teenage Prize 2009.
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