Category Archives: Horror

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel

this dark endeavorBibliographic Information:

Oppel, K. (2011). This dark endeavor. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. (978-1442403154)

Sequel: Such Wicked Intent

Plot Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Victor Frankenstein and his twin brother, Konrad, share everything. But Victor is more driven and feels the need to be better at everything. Which is why is finds it difficult to understand why his beautiful cousin, Elizabeth, may prefer his brother to himself. The three of them and their friend Henry do everything together.

The Frankenstein family wealthy and titled so Victor is used to getting what he wants with a limited amount of work. Then Konrad becomes very ill. When the friends come across the secret room, the Dark Library, Victor knows that he must make the Elixer of Life to save Konrad’s life.

Critical Evaluation:

Victor is the focus of this gothic tale. Oppel decided to use him as the narrator and as a result, the reader lives through his dark passions and confused motives. His feelings for Elizabeth and his jealous of her budding relationship with his brother creates a strained underlying current in his relationships with both Elizabeth and his brother.

His love for his brother is strong and bright but the Elixer of Life and the Dark Library are forbidden for a reason. The novel explores how one can choose a dangerous path with all the best intentions.

Reader’s Annotation:

Victor Frankenstein will do anything to save his brother from death. “Anything” means creating the Elixer of Life, if he can.

Information About the Author:

Kenneth Oppel was born August 31, 1967 on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. He completed a BA in English and cinema studies at the University of Toronto. He wrote his second children’s book in his final year at university.

Kenneth Oppel says he started writing stories when he was twelve. When he was fourteen he started his first short novel which was passed to Roald Dahl through a family friend. Dahl liked the story and passed it to his literary agent. His first novel was published in 1985.

Since then, Oppel has written a number of award winning books including the Silverwing trilogy, Airborn, and Half Brother (About the author).

Genre:

  • Horror fiction
  • Mystery fiction

Curriculum Ties:

  • English
    • Prequels to classcis

Booktalking Ideas:

  • Talk about Frankenstein and discuss what would motivate a scientist to try to create life.

Reading Level/Interest Age:

  • Ages 14 and up
  • Reading level 4.3

Challenge Issues:

  • N/A

Why did you include this resource in the titles you selected?:

Kenneth Oppel is an author that has success at the elementary and middle school levels. This Dark Endeavor is appropriate for a high school audience and is an author the students have enjoyed in the past.

Awards:

  • 2012 Libris Award (Canadian Booksellers Association)
  • Honour Book, Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book Award
  • A 2011 Quill & Quire Book of the Year
  • A 2011 London Times Best Children’s Book

Shortlisted for:

  • Governor General’s Literary Awards
  •  Red Maple Award (OLA)
  • Manitoba Young Reader’s Choice Award

Reviews:

  • This dark endeavor: The apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein. (2011). Kirkus Reviews, 79(14), 1261.

“Victor too often describes himself in relation to Konrad, but he develops into a complex and troubled character as the inevitable conclusion draws near. A subplot involving a crippled alchemist and his pet lynx steer the story more toward horror and fantasy than Enlightenment-era science fiction.

A dark and dramatic back story for Shelley’s tormented creator.”

  • Campbell, H. M. (2011). This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein. School Library Journal, 57(10), 144.

“Many details remain the same as in the original work; for instance, Victor’s arrogant desire to overcome the power of illness and death makes him a slightly unlikable protagonist. But here’s a sign of a good storyteller: readers may not like Victor, but they will certainly want to find out what happens to him.”

  • Ritter, C. K. (2011). This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein. Horn Book Magazine, 87(4), 155.

“Written from Victor’s perspective and filled with his believable internal moral struggles, Oppel’s novel is a gripping tale of undying devotion, mixing hope with foreboding.”

References:

About the author. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2013 from http://www.kennethoppel.ca/pages/biography.shtml

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

hold me closerBibliographic Information:

McBride, L. (2012). Hold me closer, necromancer. New York: Square Fish.

  • Sequel: Necromancing the Stone

Plot Summary:

Sam is a university drop-out flipping burgers in a fast-food restaurant.  When he catches the attention of Douglas, his ordinary, going nowhere life suddenly gets a lot more complicated. Because Douglas is a powerful necromancer who recognizes the Sam is also a necromancer with latent powers.

When Sam declines Douglas’ offer to train him, Douglas decides to send him one of his friend’s severed head to explain that his offer was not optional. Soon, Sam finds himself locked in a cage with a powerful werewolf in Douglas’ basement. Then, things get interesting.

Critical Evaluation:

This is a book that does not take itself too seriously. The characters banter and spar with each other. Sam (Samhain Corvus LaCroix) is sarcastic and confused. He has a Harbinger that is trying to help him in return for waffles. One of his friends is a talking head. His mother is an earth witch.

The story is told primarily from Sam’s point of view. But, McBride does switch to other character’s point of view when convenient for plot development.

There is a dose of the horror element in the plot. Douglas is evil. There is blood and torture and lots of action. But there is also humour – and that is what makes the novel refreshing and quirky. If you are looking for hard-core horror, this is not the book for you. But if you want a fun romp through the supernatural, it will not let you down.

Reader’s Annotation:

Sam is having a tough week. His dead friend’s head is talking to him, he is stuck in a cage, and a powerful necromancer is teaching him to raise the dead. On the plus side, he is in the cage with a beautiful werewolf. Maybe he will ask her for a date – if they get out alive.

Information About the Author:

Lish McBride has a tongue-and-cheek biography on her site that is much more interesting than the one below. I’ve included just the facts. Visit her site to get the good stuff.

Lish McBride grew up in the Pacific Northwest. She received her MFA in fiction from the University of New Orleans. She currently lives in Seattle,

Genre:

  • Fantasy, Fiction
  • Urban Fantasy
  • Paranormal fiction

Curriculum Ties:

  • N/A

Booktalking Ideas:

Reading Level/Interest Age:

  • Ages 14 and up

Challenge Issues:

  • Minor violence
  • sex

Challenge plan:

  1. Listen to the critic to understand what the concerns are.
    • Ask if he/she has read the boo
    • Ask if he/she has spoken to his/her child about the concerns.
  2. Explain rationale for including the book in the collection
    • Provide CLA Position Statement on Intellectual Freedom and CLA’s Position Statement of Diversity and Inclusion documents
    • Provide school’s selection polic
    • Provide list of reviews/lists
  3. If necessary, provide a “Request for Reconsideration form”

Why did you include this resource in the titles you selected?:

It is a fun, quirky twist on a horror book.

Reviews:

  • Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. (2010). Booklist, 107(6), 36-37.

“With fine writing, tight plotting, a unique and uniquely odd cast of teens, adults, and children, and a pace that smashes through any curtain of disbelief, this sardonic and outrageous story’s only problem is that it must, like all good things, come to an end.”

  • Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. (2010). Kirkus Reviews, 78(17), 862.

“Despite uneven pacing and abandoned plot threads, this quirky urban fantasy will compel fans of horror and supernatural romance–and heroic skateboarding slackers.”

Awards:

  • William C. Morris Debut Award Finalist
  • 2011 Bank Street – Best Children’s Book of the Year.

References:

Home. (n.d). Retrieved May 2, 2013 from http://www.lishmcbride.com/

Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

Rot and Ruin

Bibliographic Information:

Maberry , J. (2010). Rot & Ruin. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. (978-1-4424-0233-1)

  • Rot & Ruin, bk. 1
  • Dust & Decay, bk. 2
  • Flesh & Bone, bk. 3
  • Fire & Ash, bk. 4 (to be released in August 2013)

Plot Summary:

In this post-apocalyptic world, the zombies are roaming outside the fence in the Rot and Ruin. Benny has grown up in the world after the First Night. Now, he is fifteen and if he does not work he will lose his food rations. So, he decides to join his half-brother, Tom, as a zombie hunter.

While working with his brother, he meets Charlie Pink-eye and Motor City Hammer, two unethical zombie hunters who pit children against zombies for fun. He is also introduced to the mystery of the Lost Girl who fascinates him.

Critical Evaluation:

Rot & Ruin is a gritty zombie novel about what happens when the humans lost the war. The humans are now living in small, scattered communities isolated from one another. So, what do the humans do that are left? That is really what the story is about. It is really a coming of age story about teens that are growing up in the apocalypse and want their world to be more than waiting for death.

So, the novel is not just about killing zombies – although there is definitely a lot of that. The plot is about keeping your humanity of grays. That makes this book very interesting; even to readers who are not zombie fans.

Reader’s Annotation:

Benny thinks his brother is a coward. But when Benny accompanies Tom beyond the fence is realizes that zombies aren’t the only monsters to fear. At least with zombies you know what to do.

Information About the Author:

Maberry is a zombie writer and a multiple Bram Stoker Award winner.  I write about people who fight monsters” (SimonSchusterVideos). This statement really does encapsulate his writing which includes Dead of Night, Patient Zero and The Dragon Factory.

His writing is graphic and very descriptive. These elements help to explain his success as a comic writer as well. Finally, he writes nonfiction covering topics of martial arts and zombie pop-culture.

Jonathan Maberry also teaches Experimental Writing for Teens class. He is the founder the Writers Coffeehouse and cofounded The Liars Club (Jonathan Maberry Biography).

Jonathan has also worked as a bodyguard, college teacher and women’s self-defense instructor.

For more information, please see Jonathan Maberry’s website.

Genre:

  • Zombies
  • Survival
  • Bounty hunters
  • Horror
  • Post-apocalypse

Curriculum Ties:

  • N/A

Booktalking Ideas:

  • Compare to Forest of Hands and Teeth – created a book list of zombie books
  • Show video: Maberry talks about Rot & Ruin from Simon and Schuster:

http://videos.simonandschuster.net/The-zombie-world’s-gone-to-ROT/632738882001

Reading Level/Interest Age:

  • Ages 14 and up

Challenge Issues:

  • Violence

Challenge plan:

  1. Listen to the critic to understand what the concerns are.
    • Ask if he/she has read the book
    • Ask if he/she has spoken to his/her child about the concerns
  2. Explain rationale for including the book in the collection
    • Provide CLA Position Statement on Intellectual Freedom and CLA’s Position Statement of Diversity and Inclusion documents
    • Provide school’s selection policy
    • Provide list of reviews/lists
  3. If necessary, provide a “Request for Reconsideration form”

Why did you include this resource in the titles you selected?:

Zombies and post-apocalyptic fiction is very popular with my students.

Awards:

  • Finalist for the 2010 Cybils Award
  • Winner 2011 Cybils Award

Reviews:

  • Kraus, D. (2010). Rot & Ruin. Booklist, 107(4), 51.

“The plot is driven by an evil bounty-hunter rival and the cruel games he plays, but Maberry has more than gore on his mind. The chief emotion here is sadness, and the book plays out like an extended elegy for a lost world.”

  • Doyle, A. C. (2010). Rot & Ruin. School Library Journal, 56(11), 121.

“The relationship between Benny and Tom becomes surprisingly complex and satisfying, as does the romantic subplot between Benny and his friend Nix. The length of the book may intimidate some reluctant readers but the striking cover, compelling action, and brutal violence will draw them in and keep them reading.”

References:

Jonathan Maberry Biography. (n.d.). Retrieved May 1, 2013 from http://authors.simonandschuster.ca/Jonathan-Maberry/67600213/biography

SimonSchusterVideos. (n.d.). The zombie’s world gone to Rot & Ruin [Video file].
Retrieved from http://www.jonathanmaberry.com/rot-ruin/

The Enemy by Charlie Higson

enemyBibliographic Information:

Higson, C. (2010). The enemy. London: Puffin. (978-0-414-32501-9)

The Enemy series:

  • The Dead, bk. 2
  • The Fear, bk. 3
  • The Sacrifice, bk. 4
  • The Fallen, bk. 5

Plot Summary:

All the adults have been infected with the sickness. Two groups of children have developed bases in supermarkets. Together, they are stronger and can fight back and so far they have enough food. But when a younger kid, Small Sam is kidnapped and a boy named Jester arrives to tell them of another group of kids at Buckingham Palace, they decide to risk going there to join the other group.

Critical Evaluation:

There are two reasons why this series has been so successful. First, of course is the heavy dose of adrenaline-laced fight scenes with gore and death doled out is equal measure. Higson understands how to write an action book; he has had a lot of experience with his Young Bond series.

The other reason may not be expected in a book of this genre and that is the character development. Higson has put in a lot of time building back stories and developing individual characters. Usually, when an author invests the time in developing a character a reader expects that character will be around for a while. Not so with Higson, he kills off main characters as quickly as secondary characters. That, I think, is what surprises the reader the most. They invest in a character, start cheering for that person and suddenly, they are gone. Maybe that is where the horror comes from; the knowledge that nothing is certain and anyone can be the next victim.

Reader’s Annotation:

It is important to stay with a gang because the adults usually attack the isolated and weak. Together, the kids can survive because they are smart and quick. But the adults seem to be getting smarter they are coming.

Information About the Author:

Charlie Higson has a varied resume. He has worked as a decorator, an actor and comedian. He even formed a band.He has also written for television and radio and, of course, he is the author of the very popular Young Bond series (The author, 2013).

Genre:

  • Horror
  • Thriller
  • Post-Apocalyptic

Curriculum Ties:

  • N/A

Booktalking Ideas:

  • Create a booklist of similar books including Gone series by Grant and the Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
  • Read the first page when a child is taken by the adults.
  • Book trailer http://www.the-enemy.co.uk/home

Reading Level/Interest Age:

  • Ages 14 and up
  • Reading level 4.1

Challenge Issues:

  • Violence

Challenge plan:

  1. Listen to the critic to understand what the concerns are.
  • Ask if he/she has read the book
  • Ask if he/she has spoken to his/her child about the concerns.
  1. Explain rationale for including the book in the collection
  • Provide CLA Position Statement on Intellectual Freedom and CLA’s Position Statement of Diversity and Inclusion documents
  • Provide school’s selection policy
  • Provide list of reviews/lists
  1. If necessary, provide a “Request for Reconsideration form”

Why did you include this resource in the titles you selected?:

My students love it and the series is in constant circulation. The gross factor is high.

Reviews:

  • Kraus, D. (2010). The Enemy. Booklist, 106(18), 46.

“Higson writes with a firestorm velocity that aspires to the sweeping reach of Stephen King’s The Stand (1978). A muscular start to what looks to be a series.”

Awards:

Booklist 2011 Top 10 Books for Youth, Horror

References:

The author. (2013). Retreived April 25, 2013 from http://www.the-enemy.co.uk/author

Department 19 by Will Hill

department 19Bibliographic Information:

Hill, W. (2011). Department 19. London: Harper Collins Children’s. (978-0007424900)

Department 19, bk. 1

The Rising: bk. 2

Battlelines: bk. 3

Plot Summary:

Two years ago Jamie saw his father kill himself. Now, his mother has been kidnapped and he has been rescued by a giant named Frankenstein. So, Jamie finds himself with Department 19, a secret organization that is responsible to hunting the supernatural. Founded over a hundred years prior by Abraham Van Helsing, it turns out that the Carpenter family has been part of the Department since its inception. In fact, Jamie’s father was a member.

Now, Jamie has to train and hunt a vampire to rescue his mother. Unfortunately, the vampire is always just a step ahead of him.

Critical Evaluation:

In recent years the story of Dracula and vampires in general have soften and have been romantized. Department 19 does have good vampires but the focus of the novel is hunting the original evil, interestingly, by man-made monster out of the literary past, Frankenstein.

The plot operates on two levels. First, there is the central plot of Jamie wanting to rescue his mother and chasing down clues. Then, there is the subplot that is told in intermittent chapters of the original hunt 100 years ago which explains how Department 19 originated. These two plots come together and create a cohesive whole by the end of the book.

This book starts quickly and continues the same way. Hill is quoted as saying that Department 19 is “a hundred-mile-an-hour supernatural thriller, full of old-school vampires who would rather tear your throat out than kiss your face off, and who can’t go in the sun because they will burst into flames. There’s no sparkling here – just an action-packed race against time” (qtd in http://bookzone4boys.blogspot.ca/search?q=department+19 ). Along the way, there are fights, death, and, of course, blood.


Reader’s Annotation:

What if Dracula was real? Then it is a good thing that Department 19 is on the job to hunt him down.

Information About the Author:

Will Hill grew up in the north-east of England. Will Hill was in publishing before he became a writer. He has also worked as a bartender and a bookseller.

In his site Hill says that he has always been fascinated with vampires.

For more information about the author, please visit his site.
For more information on the series, please visit the Department 19 website

Genre:

  • Science fiction
  • Horror fiction

Curriculum Ties:

  • N/A

Booktalking Ideas:

  • Read the first couple of pages of the book where Will’s father kills himself.
  • Watch the video created by HarperCollins Children’s Books (http://youtu.be/-JvWlKT9src):


Reading Level/Interest Age:

  • Ages 14 and up

Challenge Issues:

  • Violence

Challenge plan:

  1. Listen to the critic to understand what the concerns are.
    • Ask if he/she has read the book
    • Ask if he/she has spoken to his/her child       about the concerns.
  2. Explain rationale for including the book in the collection
    • Provide CLA Position Statement on Intellectual Freedom and CLA’s Position Statement of Diversity and       Inclusion documents
    • Provide school’s selection policy
    • Provide list of reviews/lists
  3. If necessary, provide a “Request for Reconsideration form”

Why did you include this resource in the titles you selected?:

I purchased the first book in the series two years ago and read it right away because I knew that my son would want to read it since he is a big Higson fan. I bought a copy for the library as soon I finished and it flew off my shelves. So, I purchased the second book, The Rising, as soon it came out. This year, I had students reminding me when the third book was being released so I would get it that day. I have not seen it in the library since so I have not had a chance to read it yet.

Reviews:

  • Doyle, A. C. (2011). Department Nineteen. School Library Journal, 57(6), 119-120.

“There is plenty of action and gore to hook even reluctant readers despite the 500-plus pages. The author skillfully blends history, classical fiction, and teen fantasy into a unique novel.”

  • Department 19. (2011). Kirkus Reviews, 79(6), 500.

“Readers will identify the inevitable double-crosser long before Jamie does, but they probably won’t mind. They’ll be so happy these vampires don’t sparkle they’ll forgive the novel’s excesses and keep flipping the pages to the next splatter-fest–and then they’ll demand the sequel.”

  • Hutley, K. (2011). Department 19. Booklist, 107(18), 55.

“This surprising, scary genre mash-up will have enormous series appeal.”

References:

Coming up in 2011 #7: Department 19 by Will Hill. (2011). Retrieved 10 May 2013 from http://bookzone4boys.blogspot.ca/search?q=department+19

Will Hill. (2013). Retrieved 10 May 2013 from http://www.foyles.co.uk/Will-Hill