Tag Archives: Mysteries

Strange goings on at…Twelve minutes to midnight

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Twelve minutes to midnight by Christopher Edge, Published by Nosy Crow 2012.

From Booktrust.org.uk:

In 1899, thirteen year old orphan Penelope Tredwell is the author, editor and sole proprietor of London’s most popular magazine, The Penny Dreadful, concealing her true identity behind the pseudonym Montgomery Flinch. But when she receives a strange letter addressed to Flinch, Penelope finds herself drawn into a real-life adventure as thrilling as any she pens for the pages of her magazine. 

Every night at precisely twelve minutes to midnight, the inmates of Bedlam, London’s notorious madhouse, all begin feverishly writing – incoherent ramblings that Penelope quickly realises are in fact terrifying visions of the new century to come. But what is causing this strange phenomenon? Together with her trusted companion, printer’s apprentice Alfie, Penelope pits her sharp wits against this unearthly problem – and finds herself plunging into danger. 

Pacy and tightly-plotted, this is an exuberant and entertaining adventure story set in an appealingly foggy and sinister Victorian London. This adventure packed with exciting twists and turns will appeal to confident readers, and fans of Philip Pullman’s Sally Lockhart series.”

The Booktrust also listed Penny as one of their “inspirational heroines” in between Matilda (Roald Dahl) and Coraline (Neil Gaiman).

From the author (talking about one of his sources of inspiration):

“However, instead of a detective like Sherlock Holmes investigating the mystery, I wanted a different kind of hero or should I say heroine. Penelope Tredwell is the thirteen-year-old owner of The Penny Dreadful magazine whose sinister tales grip Victorian Britain, even though nobody knows that she’s the real author. Sniffing out a new story, Penny plunges into the heart of the mystery and proves herself to be just as courageous, quick-witted and resourceful as the famous resident of 221B Baker Street himself. In the course of her adventure, she even meets Sherlock Holmes’s creator – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who has a small part to play in helping her to solve the mystery.”

Read the full author blog entry from the UK Bookbuzz website here:

From the publisher (Nosy Crow):

“Montgomery Flinch gripped the sides of the reading lectern, his knuckles whitening as he stared out into the darkness of the auditorium. His bristling eyebrows arched and the gleam of his dark eyes seemed to dart across the faces of each audience member in turn. A mesmerised silence hung over the stage; it was as if the theatre itself was holding its breath as it waited for the conclusion to his latest spine-chilling tale. The expectant hush seemed to deepen as Flinch finally began to speak…”

And so the story begins…If you want to read more of the first chapter, you can download it from the Nosy Crow website:

What do I think about this book?:

I have been in the fortunate position of reading some really great fiction set in Victorian London lately. Firstly, Constable & Toop by the amazing Gareth P. Jones, Fire Spell by Laura Amy Schlitz (see my previous blog discussion on each of these titles below), A very unusual pursuit by Catherine Jenkins (the first in a new trilogy “City of orphans” and one I will discuss just prior to it’s publication) and now this splendid title. This is another book published by Nosy Crow, a relatively new UK children’s publisher. Every book or series that I have bought and read from their range has been a great hit with my students. This would appeal to age 10+ or year 6 -8 readers, both girls and boys, due to the strength of the main character.

Shiverton Hall – a “must read” for Skulduggery Pleasant fans!

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Shiverton Hall by Emerald Fennell, Bloomsbury Kids, 2013.

Due to be published in January 2013 by Bloomsbury (the same publisher who brought us Harry Potter!) This has been described as a great book for Skulduggery Pleasant fans, it sounds like it’s a very exciting read for 9-11+ year olds who like something really scary, but without too much blood and gore.

From the publisher:

They slowed as they reached the gate; two stone columns, each with its own crumbling angel perched on top. The angels held up a rusty, wrought-iron arch that read, in curling, serpentine letters: SHIVERTON HALL.

Arthur Bannister has been unexpectedly accepted into Shiverton Hall, which, as it turns out, is an incredibly spooky school, full of surprises. And it is just as well that Shiverton Hall has made its offer, because Arthur had a horrible time at his previous school, and was desperate to leave. Timely indeed . . .

But Arthur has no time to worry about the strange coincidence. He is too busy trying to make head or tail of Shiverton Hall, dogged as it is by tales of curses and bad fortune. At least there are a few friendly faces: George, who shows him around; also Penny and Jake. But not all the faces are friendly. There are the bullying Forge triplets for starters. And then there is the acid tongue of the headmistress, Professor Long-Pitt, who seems to go out of her way to make Arthur’s life a misery.

Luckily Arthur has his new friends to cheer him up. Although there are some friends that you don’t want to have at all, as Arthur is soon to find out.

Click here to read an extract of the first chapter.

Plus..as a bonus from the author and publisher:

The Quality Chophouse: A Shiverton Short Story

Click here to read an exclusive Shiverton short story from Emerald Fennell.  Be warned – you need a strong stomach to read this!

What do I think about this book?:

How could I resist something that will appeal to Skulduggery Pleasant fans? I have already ordered a copy and it should be on our new book display sometime in February (once I have read it first!)

It’s not the ghosts you need to worry about…

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Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Evans, Hot Key Books, 2012.

From Booktrust.org.uk:

“A Victorian funeral parlour might seem like an unlikely setting for a children’s book, but in fact it makes the perfect background for this spooky supernatural tale from Blue Peter Award winning author Gareth P Jones. 

Undertaker’s son Sam Toop is struggling to deal with his unusual ability to see ghosts. As a ‘Talker’ he is one of the few living people who can see and talk to spirits – and as a consequence, he finds them continually asking for his help to resolve their unfinished business. But something strange is happening in London, and soon Sam finds himself dealing with not only the ghosts’ usual problems, but a whole host of other strange happenings – the terrible Black Rot, which is infecting haunted buildings across the city, a demon hound roaming the streets, and a sinsiter preacher performing horrible exorcisms. Closer to home, he also has to deal with the return of his no-good uncle Jack, and the revelation of all sorts of long-hidden family secrets.  

Meanwhile, long-dead clerk Lapsewood is spending eternity trapped in the bureaucracy of the Ghost Bureau, working his way through an endless pile of paperwork. But when he discovers that haunted houses across London are mysteriously losing their ghosts, he makes up his mind to investigate – even if he has to defy the Bureau to do so.

With an appealingly gothic setting, this pacy and exciting mystery perfectly blends comedy with the dark, spooky and supernatural. There are plenty of funny and gruesome moments that will appeal to young readers; but this is also a well-researched, thoughtful and compassionate novel, that takes inspiration from the Victorian preoccupation with mourning and death. Jones skilfully manages a complex series of interlocking storylines and an engaging cast of characters in this witty, action-packed and hugely entertaining ghost story.”

I love this moody book trailer featuring the author:

What do I think about this book?:

One of the best books I read in 2012. I discovered Gareth P. Jones after a group of reluctant readers got hooked on one of his earlier titles – “the Considine curse”. On investigation I discovered that Mr Jones had a few other books under his belt including a cool series for younger kids “Ninja Meerkats” which I immediately ordered and have had 6/7/8 year old boys clamouring for ever since! But back to Constable & Toop…I absolutely loved this book and literally could not put it down until I had consumed it completely. This title was published in October 2012 by Hot Key Books  (a very new and exciting publisher from the UK…every time I read about their forthcoming titles I want to buy them ALL and read them, even the titles that are written for teenagers)…. Anyway this is a ghost story, but not a silly one, instead, a rather dark and chilly one, set in Victorian London and the thoroughly researched setting perfectly matches the tone of the book. It is really well written and doesn’t feel like a typical children’s book. This should appeal to Year 5/6+ readers (and adults of any age!). Teachers – this would make a great read aloud!

As Hot Key Books aren’t yet available in NZ (they will be in 2013 I believe) I bought this copy from the Book Depository. It is already in the category of “most wanted” in our library with a long line of waiting readers on the reservation list. It is well worth waiting for!

One of my favourite blogging friends – Zac Harding of “My best friends are books” was lucky enough to interview Gareth P. Jones on his blog here 🙂 check it out if you are interested in reading about where Gareth got his inspiration from and what his plans for future books might be.