by Annie Graves (Author)
These four titles belong to 'The Nightmare Club' series and are purportedly written by twelve-year-old Annie Graves (first pun in a collection which abounds in the technique, especially when naming characters - Sandy Mount, Glen O'Geary, Abbey Street, Hugh Shalby Nameless, for example). In the author's ('that's a posh word for writer') notes she tells of living in Glasnevin with a pet toad and a black cat. More interestingly, she acknowledges the help of individuals the readers perceives to be adults.
Like Chaucer before her, Annie cajoles companions to tell stories, in her case of the scary variety at her Hallowe'en sleepover; each book, we are told, is based on the narrative of a different guest, but all are written with the same emphasis on humour, with a slight, but only slight, shiver of the spine, a blend captured expertly in Glen McElhinney's illustrations.
A Dog's Breakfast and Guinea Pig Killer are both told by girls and feature cruel and selfish boys who encounter their nemesis, while Mirrored tells of imaginative Abbey whose belief in yarns spun by her reflection results in her living life 'backwards.' Bumps in the night, a missing brother and vanishing pets all come together with family loyalty to create, perhaps, the most appropriate Hallowe'en story of the four, Help! My Brother's a Zombie!
It is a colourful, attractive series which deserves that grossly over-used description, fun. Annie, as befits a twelve-year-old sophisticate, pitches her fiction at a younger age-group - perhaps eight to ten.
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