The Ribbajack and Other Curious Yarns by Brian Jacques

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The Ribbajack and Other Curious Yarns by Brian Jacques

Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Dave Martin
Reviewed by Dave Martin
Summary: A superbly crafted collection of horror and suspense stories pitched perfectly at the teenage market.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 176 Date: September 2006
Publisher: Puffin Books
ISBN: 0141321660

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Two gargantuan, clawlike hands...
Huge hairy arms with octopi suckers...
A single bloodshot eye...
He had done it... the Ribbajack was alive!

Brian Jacques has assembled a superb collection of six short stories in the The Ribbajack & Other Curious Yarns. This is a collection worthy of the twisted minds of children's authors Lewis Carroll and Roald Dahl if they had ever got together to write horror and suspense stories. Indeed, The Ribbajack pays obvious homage to Carroll's Jabberwocky. The monstrous "Ribbajack", product of a twisted child's making, is the stuff of nightmares and as frightening as any bogeyman my teenage son could conjure.

The Ribbajack is undoubtedly the outstanding tale in this eclectic mix of short stories. With horror and humour in equal measure, it is a short masterpiece of macabre storytelling for the confident reader. It is a tale of sorcery, yet it shares more of the vivid morbidity of Clive Barker's Abarat than it does with lighter tale such as J.K Rowling's Harry Potter series. This is a story for serious teens who like their books dark and atmospheric. Jacques has a curious writing style that could be called old-fashioned, but that I found endearing and enriching. His refusal to "dumb down" for his chosen audience is refreshing and also makes for an engaging read.

Although I have sung the praises of The Ribbajack, the other five tales in this collection are more than worth their place. They may not be as meaty as the opening story, but each offers something different. From A smile And A Wave, the traditional ghost story with a twist through to Rosie's Pet, each story offers a dark and humorous take on traditional themes. In fact, it is difficult not to compare this collection even further to the dark fairytales of the Brothers Grimm. All six tales are certainly ones of morality and comeuppance and rather uniquely, those most often receiving the comeuppance are the protagonists. With Jacques using the children in his stories to drive the narrative, we are able to sympathise with them but to retain a degree of satisfaction at the events at their undoing. This is a writer who pulls no punches with his reader and, thanks to some heart stopping twists, this collection will keep you on tenterhooks from start to finish.

An enjoyable, frenetic read from the very first page, Brian Jacques' The Ribbajack & Other Curious Yarns is set to become a classic. He draws heavily from other works and mythologies, but what results is a unique combination of horror and comedy. It is pitched perfectly at the confident reader although this adult enjoyed it at least as much as the young ones. The horror is edgy without being gory and the writing is timeless. The perfect present for a teenager with a penchant for the darker side of fiction or even an adult who wants a short sharp shock.

Immense thanks to the publishers at Puffin for providing this copy.

Buy The Ribbajack and Other Curious Yarns by Brian Jacques at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Ribbajack and Other Curious Yarns by Brian Jacques at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Ribbajack and Other Curious Yarns by Brian Jacques at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Ribbajack and Other Curious Yarns by Brian Jacques at Amazon.com.


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