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Mrs Hourihan, Maynard School Library

Thornhill

I bought this book for our library after seeing a lot of publicity and praise for it on Twitter etc. It is a remarkable book but exceptionally chilling and not for the faint-hearted.

It is extremely dark, in subject matter and its illustrations (including the all black pages and page edges) and I didn't really enjoy reading it because of the strong feeling of foreboding throughout and the very sad lives of the children in both stories. It's a heavy book, both physically and psychologically, and I did not feel good when I finished it. In fact, I still feel a bit unsettled just picking it up and looking at it weeks later - it has cast a kind of horrible spell on me!

I did like the allusions to Jane Eyre and The Secret Garden, and various haunted house films. The alternating narratives, one written and one illustrated, worked very well and reminded me of Brian Selznick's books (my favourite is Wonderstruck). I thought the illustrations were mostly good (except some of the faces), and certainly effective - the sinister puppets were very creepy.

Overall I admired the book but didn't like it, because it was too dark for me. I can imagine it being made into a good Gothic horror film, animated or real-life. But I probably wouldn't want to see it.

Posted on: 20th March 2018 at 03:38 pm

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