FrighteninglyGoodRead · Uncategorized

Frighteningly Good Reads #5: The Ghost Knight by Cornelia Funke

This book is perfect for readers out there who want to enjoy the spooks and specters of the haunting season without the scare. Cornelia Funke, writer of the wonderful Inkheart series, has written a number of other books I have enjoyed but Ghost Knight has the perfect feel for Frighteningly Good Reads.

Eleven-year-old Jon Whitcroft never expected to enjoy boarding school. Then again, he never expected to be confronted by a pack of vengeful ghosts, either. And then he meets Ella, a quirky new friend with a taste for adventure…

Together, Jon and Ella must work to uncover the secrets of a centuries-old murder while being haunted by terrifying spirits, their bloodless faces set on revenge. So when Jon summons the ghost of the late knight Longspee for his protection, there’s just one question: Can Longspee truly be trusted? Goodreads.

ghostknightI’ll admit, In the beginning I didn’t care for Jon at all. His Dad died when he was four and he fears that his mother and little sisters have become too attached to the man she is dating, “The Beard.” Instead of talking about it with his Mother he has taken the petulant stance that only a pre-teen has the energy to maintain. His assumes his Mother sending him to boarding school is his punishment and that The Beard is only vying to get rid of him. This sullen attitude is slapped right out of him when he starts seeing ghosts at his new school. Ella, the beautiful Ella, not only believes him but she can see ghosts too. With a new friend to confide in Jon begins to discover what all children must: talking about your fears is how you overcome them. But will talking be enough with the Knight? Or is it all a trap? How can we tell who to trust?

The level of scary of this book falls far below Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone with a smattering of Knightly violence that adds to the action. The characters, their friendship, and their collective adventures are a beautiful foil for the individual development of Jon himself. By the end of the book, my grudging acceptance of the little twerp had grown to genuine admiration.

If you want a lighter fare or need a recommendation for a younger reader this is a perfect book to curl up with during the month of October!


Tell me, please!

What is your favorite fun ghost story?


 

FrighteninglyGoodRead · Middle Grade

Frighteningly Good Reads #4: The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

This middle grade book is the kind of thrillingly creepy tale that will bring a shiver to your spine even as the last heat of the summer sun continues to burn your skin.

The Night Gardener follows two abandoned Irish siblings who travel to work as servants at a creepy, crumbling English manor house. But the house and its family are not quite what they seem. Soon the children are confronted by a mysterious spectre and an ancient curse that threatens their very lives. With Auxier’s exquisite command of language, The Night Gardener is a mesmerizing read and a classic in the making. Goodreads.

thenightgardenerThe Night Gardener the story of Molly and her brother Kip. Molly and Kip have been sent to the countryside of England to find work during the Irish potato famine. They are alone, their parents mysteriously behind them, and they are headed for work at an English manor. Every step they take closer to the manor comes with warnings from the people along the way: they are headed to their death.

Molly and Kip are quite a pair. Molly is blessed with the knack for storytelling while Kip has a green thumb. But it will take more than stories and planting to save them from the deadly traps set in the woods around the manor. Meanwhile, the Windsor family is hiding a secret so wretched that it appears to be eating them alive.

In the grand scheme of scary, this book is less jump-out-and-shock-you and more like that nightmare we all have where no matter how fast we are running the murderer is gaining on you. The atmosphere of this story is masterful and the fear becomes palatable until I found myself flipping the pages faster and faster to the end.

Beyond the spooky atmosphere, there was much to be admired in both Molly and Kip. Molly has taken the role of protector and mother to her younger brother. She maintains a positive mindset and attitude in the face of tremendous adversity. Kip has a physical disability. This is presented as a fact, not a defining characteristic. He works, he plays, he carries the crutch his father made and named Courage, he is a typical eleven year old boy. His disability is reminiscent of the character of Freddy from Shazam and I liked the portrayal.

Middle grade readers will need to pack their patience for this book. Since the story relies heavily on building a genuinely creepy atmosphere, it doesn’t move quickly. Instead, your sense of fear and dread sneak up on you. Some middle grade readers may need encouragement to persevere all the way to the end but reassure them – it is worth it!

The Night Gardener was an excellent study in how the slow drip of fear can overcome you. Like Small SpacesThe Night Gardener is a perfect creepy middle grade book.


Tell me, please!

Do you enjoy middle grade reads?


 

FrighteninglyGoodRead · Middle Grade · Uncategorized

Frighteningly Good Reads #3: The Witches by Roald Dahl

“My darling…you won’t last long in this world if you don’t know how to spot a witch when you see one.”

This is not a fairy-tale. This is about real witches. Real witches don’t ride around on broomsticks. They don’t even wear black cloaks and hats. They are vile, cunning, detestable creatures who disguise themselves as nice, ordinary ladies. So how can you tell when you’re face to face with one? Well, if you don’t know yet you’d better find out quickly-because there’s nothing a witch loathes quite as much as children and she’ll wield all kinds of terrifying powers to get rid of them. Goodreads.

thewitchesI read this book as a child and I have re-read it several times since then. It is my go-to recommendation for middle grade spooky reads. The reasons are simple. A nameless boy and his nameless Gramamama fight evil with two simple skills: communication and observation. Just the ability to look around and see what’s happening and talk to an adult about your concerns. In addition, even though the child’s parents are killed (can’t kids go on adventures with their parents?) the Grandmama actually listens to her grandson. It may seem silly but think about it, how many children’s books have you read where the underlying theme is, “parents just don’t understand”? Around the world there are children who talk to and are listened to by adults in their lives. But, somehow, in fiction our under-age protagonists are usually saddled with parents who don’t believe them in addition to their bigger problem. I love this book for the simple fact that it showcases an adult and a child working together.

Also, neither Grandmama nor the Grandson have any super powers. The Grandson isn’t gifted with super intelligence either. They are just regular people working together to thwart evil.

And the evil? It looks like a regular adult. The world is frequently terrifying to kids today. They know, or are taught, that there is evil everywhere in the world. But, if you know how to spot it you can stay safe.

This book is not perfect. It is a rare book that can claim that title. I will admit, I vastly preferred the ending in the movie to the one in the book (sacrilege, I know!). And, certainly, Dahl has been accused of darker motives.

But, The Witches is still one of my favorite Frighteningly Good Reads and one I highly recommend. The scary and macabre tone has an underpinning of the importance of listening to each other. And, one day, I hope I am the kind of Grandmama that makes a cup of cocoa, sits down and says,

“Tell me everything.”


Tell me, please!

Do you have a favorite Roald Dahl book?


 

FrighteninglyGoodRead · Uncategorized

Frighteningly Good Read #2:

illuminaeThis may not be a stock “scary book” but I will confess: being trapped on a spaceship or a submarine is a nightmare situation for me. Add any kind of threat and I am at panic level of terror. Usually I pass right by all books set it such a situation but The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff came so highly recommended by everyone that I gathered my courage to read it.

I had the pleasure of reading and listening to the audiobook and I can not imagine experiencing this story any other way. Since the audiobook is a full cast recording, a delightful one at that, it is almost like watching a movie. The experience is so vivid.

And the design of this book is beyond comprehension. A simple flip-through might give a reader the impression that it is a series of e-mails and documents but it is a multi-faceted thing that is probably best described as a printed collage. I loved it. It was, at times, confusing, but overall it essential to experiencing the full effect of the story.

As for the story:

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes. Goodreads

I may have said that being aboard a spaceship or submarine is a nightmare but a deadly plague on said sealed metal crafts trumps that in the order of terrifying. And when the delightful Kady and cutie Ezra are threatened my heart was in my throat.

I well and truly cannot decide which character enjoyed more – Kady or Ezra. Both are quick and witty and strong in the face of adversity. Furthermore, the AI is a creature of fascination for me. I just wanted to spend more time with them all. Thankfully, there are two more books in the series for me!


Tell me, please!

What non-traditional setting terrifies you?


 

FrighteninglyGoodRead

Frightening Good Reads 2019

Happy first day of Fall!!! The weather is exactly two degrees cooler in my neck of the woods and I am already gazing longingly at my fall wardrobe. The only thing I love more than cozying up to read in cooler weather is making my plans for this year’s Frightening Good Reads!

Every year since I have started blogging I have spent the month of October focused on spooky, scary, and Halloween-themed books. This year, all are welcome to join in the spooky fun! This is probably the most low-key endeavor in the history of blogging but I am just really working toward the goal of socializing and, of course, finding more spooky books to read.

So: here is how it works. Ready?

Just post a blog, comment below, tweet, or instagram your intention to join in the fun and pingback to this year’s post.

If you share updates on social media, I’ll be using #frighteninglygoodreads2019 and you can too so we can all follow each other.

That’s it! I know most challenges require a TBR or, you know, anything besides just an intention, but I am such a terrible mood reader that I know I won’t stick to my own so why would I ask it of anyone else?

As for what counts for “frightening” – it is anything that you can honestly say scares you or gives you the willies. Suspense, intense action, and the classic terror reads are all part of the feeling of the season. And, any age groups are welcome! I know….I’ve made it really difficult.


Tell me, please!

If spooky reading isn’t for you, how do you enjoy fall?