Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Shiverton Hall By Emerald Fennell

Shiverton Hall
Release Date: 3rd January 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Paperback
Pages: 256
Synopsis: They slowed as they reached the gate; two stone columns, each with its own crumbling angel perched on top. The angels held up a rusty, wrought-iron arch that read, in curling, serpentine letters: SHIVERTON HALL.

Arthur Bannister has been unexpectedly accepted into Shiverton Hall, which, as it turns out, is an incredibly spooky school, full of surprises. And it is just as well that Shiverton Hall has made its offer, because Arthur had a horrible time at his previous school, and was desperate to leave. Timely indeed . . .

But Arthur has no time to worry about the strange coincidence. He is too busy trying to make head or tail of Shiverton Hall, dogged as it is by tales of curses and bad fortune. At least there are a few friendly faces: George, who shows him around; also Penny and Jake. But not all the faces are friendly. There are the bullying Forge triplets for starters. And then there is the acid tongue of the headmistress, Professor Long-Pitt, who seems to go out of her way to make Arthur's life a misery.

Luckily Arthur has his new friends to cheer him up. Although there are some friends that you don't want to have at all, as Arthur is soon to find out.
Review: I'd only heard of this novel recently but the synopsis really drew me in. After all there's a boarding school, a curse and ghosts, what more could I possibly want from a novel? All of these things make books very interesting to me and when I won this I was so excited and I read it straight away. As it's a children's novel it only took me a day to read but it was absolutely brilliant. I cannot stress how good it was. It's up there with my top reads of the year and it's not even out until the very beginning of 2013! I would say this is a children's horror novel and it is indeed very spooky, way more spooky than I thought would be possible for a children's novel. As a young adult it even sent chills down my spine and made my body pump adrenalin, the scares were addictive! I was practically flipping through the pages waiting to be scared again. Shiverton  Hall is all about secrets, curses and how the past will always catch up to you. It's a very good horror novel aimed at children from a very promising new author. I can't wait to see what she produces next.
Arthur Bannister is our main character, he mysteriously receives a letter which offers him a place at the old creepy Shiverton Hall. After the events of the past year, he needs a new start and accepts. Shiverton Hall is indeed as grand as the name suggests but it's steeped in cobwebs and shadows. The grounds are stuck in the past and with the past, secrets begin to be unearthed. Arthur's appearance at the hall sets of a whole chain of events. Arthur makes some new friends but even here bullies find him. Trying his best to move on, his new friend George distracts him with some ghost stories that might just be more real than they sound. When the group of friends begin seeing things that can't possibly be real, they realise there are scarier things waiting in the shadows of the hall, than these bullies. Much scarier things await.
Arthur Bannister is the main character whose looking for a fresh start. After some horrifying events happened to him in the last year, he needs to go somewhere where no one will know him. Shiverton Hall is the answer to his prayers. Even at the new school people seem to be out to get him. Very few people he can trust and there's always the threat that someone will notice who he really is. Arthur was a great character, he wasn't perfect, his past showed us that but he was just a young boy. He was put through so much, most of which a child should never have to deal with. Of course he will be wary of everyone but that's understandable. Arthur had to question his beliefs and even more so himself throughout the novel. There was a lot of growth to his character.
The novel was written in two parts. There would be the present time where Arthur was at the hall, then every few chapters there would be a ghost story from the past. I freaking loved the history of the hall and all the horrors that came with it. It was these chapters that made me shiver and my heart pump twice as fast. The suspense was perfect and even now it scares me how horrible some of the stories were. They were just so good! Despite it being a children's novel, these ghost stories were so scary! I would probably have a quick flick through them yourself before giving it to your child though.
Shiverton Hall is an incredibly well written horror novel aimed at children. It is full of frights and scares that will make the reader sleep with the light on for nights on end. The ending was brilliant and I didn't see it coming at all. I hope there will be more to the series, if not more horror stories from the author. Emerald Fennel is a debut novelist who you should look out for in the future, her writing is very promising. This novel is out on the 3rd January 2013 and it's a good one to start off your reading year with. It's going to be hard to beat!

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