This collection of horror stories is wonderful. Each creepy story features a slightly unpleasant child meeting a bad end. But the clever part is that the stories are all linked. They’re all being told by a sinister ‘Woman in White’ to a young boy who has the feeling that they’re supposed to put him to sleep, and that falling asleep would be a very very bad idea. It’s a kind of reversed Scheherazade for kids.
It’s set in a Victorian world and I loved that the language hasn’t been simplified. Priestley makes no apology for all the long words a child might have to look up or guess (and therefore learn) the meaning of from the context, or the many references to classic literature.
The illustrations by David Roberts are beautifully macabre in the style of a Tim Burton movie.
These atmospheric cautionary tales are highly readable, short, fun and chilling but not too scary for middle grade readers. Best enjoyed just before bed!
Kelly McCaughrain is the author of the Children's Books Ireland Book of the Year,
She is the Children's Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland #CWFNI
She also blogs at The Blank Page
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