Light on explicit grue but well endowed with macabre detail and leavening dashes of humor.

ON THE DAY I DIED

STORIES FROM THE GRAVE

Nine creepy tales told by dead teens and positively tailor-made for reading—or reading aloud—by flashlight.

Fleming uses a version of “The Vanishing Hitchhiker” as a frame story and draws inspiration from several classic horror shorts, monster movies and actual locales and incidents. Within this frame, she sends a teenager into a remote cemetery where ghostly young people regale him with the ghastly circumstances of their demises. These range from being sucked into a magical mirror to being partially eaten by a mutant rubber ducky, from being brained by a falling stone gargoyle at an abandoned asylum to drowning in a car driven by a demonic hood ornament. Tasty elements include a malign monkey’s paw purchased at a flea market, a spider crawling out of a corpse’s mouth and a crazed florist who collects the heads of famous gangsters. Amid these, the author tucks in period details, offers one story written in the style of Edgar Allan Poe (“As I pondered the wallpaper, its patterns seemed to crawl deep inside me, revealing dark secrets… No!”) and caps the collection with perceptive comments on her themes and sources.

Light on explicit grue but well endowed with macabre detail and leavening dashes of humor. (Horror/short stories. 10-13)

Pub Date: July 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86781-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2012

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Readers with strong stomachs and a taste for melodramatic narratives bedizened with words like “tenebrous” and “mephitic”...

THE LUNATIC'S CURSE

More luridly gothic deeds and schemes, set near the locales of the author’s Eyeball Collector (2009), Bone Magician (2008) and Black Book of Secrets (2007).

The prosperous town of Oppum Oppidulum, the deep and cold adjacent Lake Beluarum and the Asylum for the Peculiar and Bizarre that sits on an island in said lake all hold horrifying secrets. Young Rex discovers this when his father is confined to the Asylum after suddenly going mad and eating his own hand—to the open glee of Rex’s sinister new stepmother Acantha Grammaticus. Higgins trots Rex himself out to the misty island, where he is befriended by a deaf, young freak-show contortionist, nearly falls under the spell of a hypnotic con artist out to harvest the diamonds scattered thickly on the lake’s bottom and uncovers a number of hideous secrets on the way to a climax that brings just deserts for some and tragic twists of fate for others. Strewing her narrative with dark hints, obscure clues, assorted lunatics and, in particular, both macabre cuisine and a panoply of noxious or tantalizingly evocative odors, the author contrives a highly atmospheric experience.

Readers with strong stomachs and a taste for melodramatic narratives bedizened with words like “tenebrous” and “mephitic” will devour this yarn with relish. So to speak. (Gothic fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-56682-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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REVENGE OF THE WITCH

From the Last Apprentice series , Vol. 1

Readers seeking lots of up-close encounters with the unquiet dead and other creepy entities need look no further. Seventh son of a seventh son, and left-handed to boot, young Tom seems a natural to succeed Mr. Gregory, the aging “Spook” charged with keeping the County’s many ghasts, ghosts, boggarts and witches in check. He’s in for a series of shocks, though, as the job turns out to be considerably tougher and lonelier than he expects. Struggling to absorb Gregory’s terse teachings and vague warnings, Tom is immediately cast up against a host of terrifying adversaries—most notably Mother Malkin, an old and very powerful witch, and her descendant Alice, a clever young witch-in-training who is capable of outwitting him at every turn, but may or may not have yet gone completely to the bad. An appendix of supposed pages reproduced from Tom’s notebook adds little to information already supplied, but along with somber images at the chapter heads, does add atmospheric visual notes. By the end, though Mother Malkin has come to a suitably horrific end, there are tantalizing hints that the Dark Is Rising. Stay tuned. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-076618-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2005

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