Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite authors. His stories are cleverly woven with intricate details and disturbing thoughts. I loved Coraline and The Graveyard Book. The Ocean at the End of the Lane was in the same league.
I know this phrase is overused in the reading world but this book was difficult to put down. It was quite a simple story yet its impact was immense. A child’s worst nightmare is to be taken by unknown creatures in the night. For the boy in this book nightmares become reality.
* ‘Why didn’t adults want to read about Narnia, about secret islands and smugglers and dangerous fairies?’
* ‘But they have promised you to me, so I will have something to play with; something to keep me company in the dark.’
* ‘Huge, they were, and sleek, and ancient, and it hurt my eyes to look at them.’
* ‘And people change as much as oceans.’
* ‘I was wearing the right clothes for a hard day.’
I decided to revisit one of my favourite teen horror authors. Lois Duncan is the author of classics such as I know what you did last summerandKilling Mr. Griffin. I remember sitting in my school library during silent reading time in year 7 reading her terrifying tales whilst my peers were doing anything but reading around me.
I recently read Down a Dark Hall, which to my surprise was first published in 1974 and could easily be relevant to modern day teens. It is quite an interesting story with a few creepy scenes that are well written. 4 girls are selected to attend a boarding school where spirits are able to channel talents (e.g. composing music, writing poetry, painting) through their bodies. Emily Bronte & Schubert are amongst the spirits who use the girls to complete unfinished work. It would be amazing if that could actually happen. Imagine what other stories and music would have been created if people lived longer back in those days.
I also read Summer of Fear which was a more typical teen horror story. A strange cousin (Julia) whose parents died in a car crash comes to live with Rachel and her family. Julia begins to take over Rachel’s life (stealing her friends, boyfriend, clothes) until Rachel suspects that Julia is actually a witch up to no good. Although I probably would have appreciated this story a lot more as a teenager it was still engaging and show cased Duncan’s ability to make even the ridiculous of situations seem plausible.
I will be on the look out for more of Lois Duncan books in second hand book stores as I believe that she can teach me a lot about suspense writing. She sold her first story at the age of 13!