Moonwailer by Peter Murray

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Moonwailer by Peter Murray

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Loralei Haylock
Reviewed by Loralei Haylock
Summary: A simple, entertaining scary story that will appeal to young boys, probably best enjoyed read aloud by spooky torchlight, but not one to revisit again and again.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 176 Date: April 2008
Publisher: Mokee Joe Promotions
ISBN: 0955341566

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Just for once Billy Hardacre wants to have a holiday where nothing goes wrong. Nothing dangerous, nothing weird and definitely nothing spooky. A school camping trip to the Yorkshire Dales with his best friend Callum has Billy very excited, but before he leaves, his mother reads his tea leaves and warns him to be on the lookout for a tall, dark, unfriendly man. Before they even reach their campsite, the school group are stopped by police warning them about a stray dog, they keep finding dead animals hung over fences and Billy's sixth sense gives him troubling feelings.

There is a legend on the Dales of a boy with a tragic past, who sold his soul to get revenge on his evil stepfather. He now haunts the Dales as a Moonwailer, a werewolf like creature of incredible agility and strength. Mr Duder, Billy's teacher, tells them it is just a story, but Billy isn't so sure. Everywhere he goes, he feels like he's being watched, and ghostly howls keep echoing across the night. Together with Callum, who knows better than to ignore one of Billy's strange feelings, and a local priest, Father Boniface, Billy sets out to rid the Dales of the Moonwailer once and for all, before one of his teachers or classmates gets hurt.

This third book about ghostbuster Billy Hardacre and his friend Callum is tense scary stuff. Peter J Murray knows his audience well, and knows just how to frighten and delight them. There are edge of the seat scary moments, and laugh out loud moments, and plenty of characters kids will recognise and relate to. It's fairly short and simple, and could probably be read aloud in three or four sittings, which I think is what Murray envisioned when writing it - a group of frightened children gathered around an adult, reading by torchlight (he even includes a couple of grownup jokes for the benefit of the adults - the crack about "risk assessments" had me laughing aloud!) I can imagine Moonwailer makes a fantastically scary bedtime story.

However, the girls in the group are portrayed in a slightly negative light, which may make Moonwailer appeal less to female audiences, and excessive use of italics throughout do make the book read like a "how to" guide on reading expressively. While this is probably useful to those of us who can't read aloud particularly well, it makes reading the book to yourself incredibly annoying. But then, I'm more than a decade outside the intended age range - I can imagine young boys would find the italics make Moonwailer read very much like the action packed, intense television shows they like to watch.

In terms of appeal, Moonwailer will do well amongst young boys, but unlike some children's books it doesn't really transfer across age groups. It's not that it isn't good - because it is, it’s a great little scary tale for young kids - but there's not much else going on. It doesn't challenge, it doesn't make you think, which is absolutely fine if you just want some light entertainment, but it's not one to go back to and read again and again.

My thanks to the publisher for sending a copy.

Kids who like their scares might also enjoy Ghost Chamber by Celia Rees.

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Buy Moonwailer by Peter Murray at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Moonwailer by Peter Murray at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Moonwailer by Peter Murray at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Moonwailer by Peter Murray at


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