Home Sweet Horror Scary Tales 1 by James Preller and Iacopo Bruno

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Home Sweet Horror Scary Tales 1 by James Preller and Iacopo Bruno

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Margaret Young
Reviewed by Margaret Young
Summary: A fun story for children who like to be scared, but a bit hard on the eyes.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 98 Date: September 2013
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1447246831

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Home Sweet Horror Scary Tales 1 is just the thing for children looking for a wee bit of a fright for Halloween. It isn't overly gruesome, or the type of thing that might seriously traumatise a younger sibling, but just scary enough for a delicious thrill for older children and tweens.

As far as Liam and his sister Kelly are concerned, things couldn't get any worse. Their mother died less than a year ago, and their father has decided they need a fresh start. He has packed them off to a falling-down house out in the country, away from all their friends. To make matters worse, no repair men will set foot in the house, the locals seem terrified of it, and one repairman even rings and warns them to get out. Not exactly the welcome they were looking for. At first only Liam can hear the strange voices or see messages left by an unseen hand such as mine, but when Kelly and her best friend try to call a spirit through the mirror - they get more than bargained for. Will anyone believe the children? Or will it be written off as homesickness? And even if their father does believe - will it be too late?

This book is clearly inspired by one of those very gruesome childhood games of the past. The participants in the book simply spin in circles chanting Bloody Mary in front of a candlelit mirror, where other variants are a bit more nasty adding taunts about the ghost's dead babies. The spinning is a variation I have not tried, but the original version of the game involves staring into the mirror for an extended period of time by candle light. The actual chant is unimportant other than to play on participants nerves. This produces a phenomenon known as the Troxler effect in which peripheral vision may fade and disappear resulting in the appearance of distortions in the mirror. The results in the book however, are far too extreme to explain away as illusion.

Home Sweet Horror is just the right length for this type of story. It gives the reader just enough background information to relate to the characters without becoming bogged down. The main point of this story is of course the fright, and the author brings in the fear and tension very quickly. The illustrator has done a wonderful job as well, although I am afraid part of his talents were lost on my sons. We read this book by torch light - which is ever so much more fun. This does limit the impact of the illustrations though, and it draws the books biggest flaw into focus very clearly. Instead of being printed on white or cream paper as most books are, this has been printed on grey. Even reading with a light on, I found this unpleasant, and when I asked my son to read a single paragraph, he said it gave him a sore head. Reading by torch light was even worse, but having read the book before hand it was easy enough to guess at the text. As I feel this could put many young readers off, this has cost the book a full star in my opinion, and I would strongly recommend against this book for any child who is already struggling with reading. Despite my moan over eye strain, I will almost certainly buy another book from this series for Halloween. I will just memorise it under a very bright light and tell the story without the book.

If you just want a fun story to read aloud on Halloween night though, this is just the thing. My children are ages 5 and 8. Both enjoyed this book, but I would caution that I probably would have kept my mother up half the night had she been foolish enough to read something like it to me at age 5. This is a touch more frightening than most books for tweens, and I have seen teenagers scared silly with the Bloody Mary game - which your children are certain to play after reading this, so parental discretion is advised. I would note that I am not fond of the idea of spinning until dizzy with candles and have omitted that from our games. If your child reads this alone - I would advise setting house rules for acting this part of story well beforehand.

If this book appeals then we can also recommend:

Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley

Haunted by Susan Cooper, Joseph Delaney, Berlie Doherty, Jamila Gavin, Matt Haig, Robin Jarvis, Derek Landy, Sam Llewellyn, Mal Peet, Philip Reeve and Eleanor Updale

Buy Home Sweet Horror Scary Tales 1 by James Preller and Iacopo Bruno at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Home Sweet Horror Scary Tales 1 by James Preller and Iacopo Bruno at Amazon.co.uk.

Buy Home Sweet Horror Scary Tales 1 by James Preller and Iacopo Bruno at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Home Sweet Horror Scary Tales 1 by James Preller and Iacopo Bruno at Amazon.com.


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