The Dead of Winter by Chris Priestley
|The Dead of Winter by Chris Priestley|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Chris Priestley takes his Gothic ghost stories into a full length novel. Gorgeously shivery right up to the very last page, it won't disappoint fans of his Tales of Terror series.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: October 2010|
|External links: Author's website|
Michael Vyner's father died when Michael was just a baby. He was a hero, sacrificing himself to save the life of Sir Stephen Clarendon whilst fighting for the British Empire in Afghanistan. This was precious little comfort to Michael and his mother, who resented the rich man's largesse over the years, wishing for the man they lost and not the charity of the man he saved. So, when Michael's mother dies too and he finds himself all alone in the world, he is not entirely overjoyed to discover that Sir Stephen is now his guardian and has invited him to spend Christmas at Hawton Mere.
The house is large and old and remote, desolate even. And as he arrives, Michael sees a bedraggled woman standing alone in the marshes. Calling to his companions to rescue her, he turns around and she has simply disappeared. Unable to get the woman out of his mind, grieving for his mother, and kept away from Sir Stephen who is ill with his nerves, Michael feels isolated and lonely. Was the woman a figment of his imagination? If so, what about the strange noises he hears? Or the glimpses he catches of a shadowy creature? Did Michael ransack his own room during a nightmare? Or is someone - something - else to blame?
In The Dead of Winter, Chris Priestley takes his Gothic ghost stories into a full length novel. Gorgeously shivery right up to the very last page, it won't disappoint fans of his Tales of Terror series as they pull the bedclothes over their heads and ask for the bedroom light to stay on overnight. Written in the classic Victorian style, it's dark, oppressive and brooding and absolutely bristling with tension, starting with a funeral and continuing in a bleak and haunted house standing in a barren landscape bereft of cheer. With ghosts, visions, madness, death and decay, it ticks all the boxes - and we would expect no less.
These sorts of stories are very popular at the moment, but I like Priestley in particular because he treads the fine line between a literary style and accessibility so well and his books are approachable by any child from late primary age, right up to older adolescents who love the genre. It's not an easy thing to do, but Priestley makes it look so.
My thanks to the good people at Bloomsbury for sending the book.
If creepy and Gothic horror is what they like, they could also look at Grisly Tales from Tumblewater by Bruno Vincent which has some 'woefully sticky endings. The ever ingenious Margaret Mahy blend themes of bioethics into a very creepy tale of the unexpected in Organ Music.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Dead of Winter by Chris Priestley at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Dead of Winter by Chris Priestley at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.