The School of Night: Creeping Terror by Justin Richards
|The School of Night: Creeping Terror by Justin Richards|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A town of ghosts trapped behind hellish hedges provides for a powerful young teen read. Examine this to see how to create effective entries to larger series.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: April 2011|
|Publisher: Faber Children's Books|
|External links: Author's website|
When a boy and his father enter a village asking for directions, the unexpected happens. They find all the inhabitants observing a WWII blackout, and thinking it's 1943. But it's definitely 2011. Luckily the lad belongs to the School of Night, an arcane institute of ghost-hunters where merely talking to the shade of your dead sister could come across as a fail. It will still take a lot of pluck and smarts from staff and students to solve the problem of the ghost village of Templeton, and the evil barriers surrounding it.
Forget all those how-to-write-children's-fiction books and courses; this serves as lesson enough. The plot has more than enough exuberance to make you forget anything less pertinent, and forces you to be carried through its kinetic action to the gripping end. Therefore you bypass any thoughts you may start to form about this being just an 11-12-year old-friendly horror rewrite of Brigadoon; can ignore any thoughts of how unlikely (and unnecessary) the titular terror combined with time travel could be; and just soak up all the benefits to the reader - the old featured in a new way, the simple but efficient characterisation, and the thought that filming this would demand a suitably high budget.
But where it really excels in my mind is that this is part two of a much larger series (of seven books, I guess), but can so easily make you forget that as well. While it's immersed in a world of evil vegetation of all things, and exhausts all such potentialities most adeptly, it easily makes you ignore the larger picture, with the tiniest, most delightful teases of more to come.
This doesn't have to tie itself into a franchise, it has enough qualities to sell itself. Nearly every chapter has a DAH-DA-DAAAHHH!!! ending, and you can see where forty-plus books' experience have left Mr Richards, and why he oversees Dr Who novels for the BBC. If it can also make you forgive its illogicalities you'll give it the full five stars, and either way you'll wish for an "I'll buy the job lot, please!" button on your nearest friendly book-selling website.
I must thank the kind Faber people for my review copy.
For a similar set-up of teenaged psychic agents, we recommend Unleashed : A Life and Death Job by Ali Sparkes.
You can read more book reviews or buy The School of Night: Creeping Terror by Justin Richards at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The School of Night: Creeping Terror by Justin Richards at Amazon.com.
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