Posts tagged horror

Lockwood and Co.: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in . . .For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions.Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.

The Screaming Staircase is one of the most exciting books I’ve read this year. Jonathan Stroud had me on the edge of my seat, anticipating a ghost to jump out at me around every twist and turn of the plot.  Jonathan has created such a chilling atmosphere in the book that you hear the creaks and groans of the old houses and almost feel the temperature drop in the room as the characters get closer to the ghosts.  You get caught up in the mystery of the lives of the living and the dead and Jonathan keeps you in suspense.

I love the world that Jonathan has created in the book; one much like ours but one plagued by ghosts of all sorts.  There are different types of ghosts, from a Type One Shade to a Type Two Wraith.  There are Physic Investigation Agencies (of which Lockwood and Co. is one) which specialise in the ‘containment and destruction of ghosts.’  These are run by adult supervisors but rely on the strong physic Talent of children.  It is only children who can see and hear the ghosts so it is up to them to capture them.  There is no mention of when the story is set (which I think just makes the story even better), but there is a mixture of both old-fashioned clothes and weapons, and modern technology.  The ghost hunters’ kit includes an iron rapier, iron chains and magnesium flares, all of which prove extremely necessary when facing the spectral threats.  Jonathan has even included a detailed glossary of terms and types of ghost, which I found really interesting to read after I had finished the book.
The three main characters, all members of Lockwood and Co., are all fantastic characters who really grew on me as the story progressed.  They each have their quirks, especially Lockwood and George, but they make a brilliant team and have each others’ backs when it counts.  There’s no love triangle here, just good old-fashioned camaraderie and getting the job done (if it doesn’t kill them first).  Lockwood, George and Lucy are building their relationship in this book, so there are some tense moments between them (especially George and Lucy) but Jonathan’s dialogue is brilliant.  I’m looking forward to seeing how their relationships develop in the further books.
I can’t wait for more Lockwood and Co.!  If you want a book that you won’t want to put down, that you’ll want to read with the lights on, then Lockwood and Co.: The Screaming Staircase is perfect.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Comments (5) »

Derek Landy talks about Last Stand of Dead Men

War has finally come. But it’s not a war between good and evil, or light and dark – it’s a war between Sanctuaries. For too long, the Irish Sanctuary has teetered on the brink of world-ending disaster, and the other Sanctuaries around the world have had enough. Allies turn to enemies, friends turn to foes, and Skulduggery and Valkyrie must team up with the rest of the Dead Men if they’re going to have any chance at all of maintaining the balance of power and getting to the root of a vast conspiracy that has been years in the making. But while this war is only beginning, another war rages within Valkyrie herself. Her own dark side, the insanely powerful being known as Darquesse, is on the verge of rising to the surface. And if Valkyrie slips, even for a moment, then Darquesse will burn the world and everyone in it.

The second to last book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series, Last Stand of Dead Men, is finally here!  The last couple of books are going to be pretty epic and it will be really interesting to see how the series ends.  I’ll post my review very soon and there will be a copy to win.

Comments (1) »

Meet Joseph Delaney in Christchurch

If you love The Spook’s Apprentice series come along and meet Joseph Delaney in Christchurch this Wednesday (20 February).  You can come and meet him at Upper Riccarton Library, from 7:00-8:00pm on Wednesday 20 February.  He’ll talk about his books, you can ask him questions, and even get your book signed.

It’s a free event but you need to book a space.  Just call the library on 03-941-7923 to book.

To find out more about Joseph Delaney and the Spook’s Apprentice series, visit

Comments off

Guest Author: Joseph Delaney’s Top 5 Scariest Creatures in the Spook’s Stories

Joseph Delaney is the author of one of my favourite series, The Spook’s Apprentice.  It’s seriously creepy and full of all sorts of horrible creatures.  As the Spook’s Apprentice, Thomas has to keep the County safe from the evil that lurks in the dark.  The latest book in the series, Spook’s: Slither’s Tale, has just been released, and to celebrate Joseph has joined us today to talk about his Top 5 scariest creatures in the Spook’s stories.

The Haggenbrood

This creature is used in ritual combat to determine the outcome of disputes between citizens of Valkarky (See ‘Slither’).  It has three selves which share a common mind and they are, for all intents and purposes, one creature. It is fast and ferocious with fearsome teeth and claws.


This is the witch assassin of the Malkin Clan (See ‘The Spook’s Battle’ and also ‘I am Grimalkin’). She is deadly with blades and stores powerful dark magic in the thumb-bones that she cuts from her dead enemies with her snippy scissors in order to wear around her neck.

The Bane

This creature from ‘The Spook’s Curse’ is trapped behind a silver gate in a labyrinth of dark tunnels under Priestown Cathedral. It is a shape-shifter with a terrible power; the Bane is able to press a victim so hard that his blood and bones are smeared into the cobbles.


This ‘Lord of Winter’ from ‘The Spook’s Secret’ has the power to plunge the world into another Ice Age. If summoned from the dark he can freeze you solid and shatter you into pieces like an ice stalactite falling on to a slab of rock.


She is the most powerful of the water witches (See The Spook’s Mistake). Fathered by the Fiend, she has a blood-filled eye which is usually closed, the lids fixed together with a sharp thin bone. But anyone she gazes upon with that eye is immediately paralyzed and she is able to drink that victim’s blood at her leisure.

Best wishes,
Joseph Delaney

Reserve your copy of the latest book in the Spook’s Apprentice series, Slither’s Tale, from your library now.

Comments off

My favourite seriously spooky authors

Some of my favourite stories are ones that creep me out and send a chill down my spine.  When I was a kid there weren’t many authors who wrote horror stories or ghost stories.  R.L. Stine’s books were about the creepiest I could find and he’s still writing them today.  If you look up R.L. Stine in the library catalogue, you’ll find we have 97 of his books in the library!

If you like horror stories, ghost stories or stories about the supernatural there are now lots of authors who write these stories. Some of my favourite seriously spooky authors are:

Who are your favourite seriously spooky authors?

Comments (3) »

The Spook’s Blood Book Trailer

If you’re a fan of The Spook’s Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney, you’ll be excited to hear the latest book in the series, The Spook’s Blood is released this month.  To make sure you’re one of the first to get your hands on The Spook’s Blood, reserve your copy at the library now.

Comments off

Doom Rider

This year, I’ve got something new and exciting coming out: Doom Rider! With my Dead Trilogy done, I wanted to do something different, but stick with a dark, horror-esque story line. This actually started out as little more than a note at the end of an email to my editor. I didn’t really think anyone would take my idea seriously. A kid who’s been murdered a 1000 times and finds out he’s the first rider of the apocalypse with the power to destroy the world? Really?

From the off, I didn’t want to do something comic. The Apocalypse Riders are great fun to send up, but I wanted to do something serious. And I also wanted to play with the whole notion of free will verses destiny in a world where religion holds sway.

The blurb goes like this: Seth Crow has lived a thousand lives, and in each one he’s been murdered before he turns thirteen. And now he’s being hunted again. But this time it’s different … Enter Lily, who tells him of his fate: Seth is CONQUEST. The first of the four riders of the Apocalypse. And people want him dead, before he can fulfil his destiny. Seth’s only hope lies in finding the other riders – Strife, Famine and Death. Together the fate of the world will be in their hands. The Apocalypse is coming. And the only ones who can save the world, hold the power to destroy it.

Sounds a riot, doesn’t it? And it really is! When I do school visits I get asked, “What’s the best book you’ve written?” I always hope it’s the next one that’s out, as I’m always trying to improve what I do. So if you enjoyed my Dead Trilogy, trust me, you’re gonna just LOVE Doom Rider! It’s out in July so keep an eye on my website ( as I’ll be keeping it up to date with news, perhaps even a competition or two…

Comments (1) »

The Damned

The Damned was a terrifying experience. But before I explain why, this is the blurb: “It’s not just the Dead who want to return to the Land of the Living, but the creatures of Hell itself. And only Lazarus, Stone, Keeper of the Dead, can stop them. But he’s on an insane rescue mission to save his best mate and his dad, with only the help of an undead priest and an angel with an alcohol problem. This isn’t just about saving the world, this is personal…”

So why so terrifying? Well, The Damned was the first time I’d ever experienced characters taking on a life of their own, controlling the story, and telling me what was going to happen next, where they were going to go, rather than the other way round. It was a bit disconcerting. I’m big on planning my books out. To me, it’s a bit like how I’d approach a piece of art (were I an artist, which I’m not, trust me!) First, I’d sketch it out, until I was happy with what I was doing, and then I’d add in the detail, the colour. And that’s much how I work – plan it out first, get happy with the structure of the story, then colour it in! However, half way through The Damned, the characters had other ideas as to what was going to happen. And I just had to hold on tight and hope they knew what they were doing, which it turns out they did!

The Damned is an epic conclusion to a crazy, dark, hellish journey. It draws on a lot of my love of horror movies and fiction, with plenty of nods to everything from Lovecraft to Fulci. The characters are still with me, the story still haunts me, and I hope that, once you survive your time with the Dead/Dark/Damned, you’ll be a little bit haunted by it, too!

Comments off

The Dark

And then came book 2… And what a blast it was! Having set up Lazarus with a pretty nasty beginning, this was where I could let things get really out of hand. so I did. This is the blurb: “Lazarus Stone has been killed, resurrected, and attacked by demons. He’s all that stands between our world and the Dead. But things are getting complicated: he’s alone in the land of the Dead, his best mate Craig is missing, and he’s no idea who – or what – tricked his dad into trying to bring back his long-dead mum. Oh, and he’s wearing a corpse’s clothes. Life, he might think, couldn’t get much worse. But it will…” Writing The Dark was a steep learning curve, as most books seem to be. Here though I was seeing just how far and dark I could go, but also wondering all the way if I could sustain Lazarus’s story not just for book 2, but on into book 3.

When I do my school visits I often explain that the best way to think about a story is this: in the first part, get your character into a tree, thus presenting them with a problem – how to get down again. Then, to make the story interesting, it’s my job as a writer to do everything I can to make their journey back to the ground as difficult as possible. So throw stones at them, spears, rockets, try to chop the tree down, burn it, kidnap their family, train a flock of flesh-eating crows to take up residence in the tree…

Essentially, what I’m saying is that to make a story interesting, I have to make sure it’s nigh on impossible for a character to achieve a purpose. So that’s what I do in The Dark: I throw everything I’ve got, and a little bit more, at Lazarus. And through it all he gets stronger, more determined, and we can’t help but want to keep turning the page to find out what happens next…

Comments off

Skulduggery Pleasant: The End of the World by Derek Landy

Everyone’s favourite skeleton detective is back in a mini-adventure.  The End of the World is a shorter story that Derek wrote for World Book Day in the UK and we’re also lucky enough to get it in New Zealand too.

The End of the World focuses on Ryan, an ordinary boy living in an ordinary world.

Or so he thought.

Ryan holds the key to a powerful weapon that could destroy the world.  He’s being pursued by a gang of insane sorcerers who will do anything to get a hold of the key.  His only chance for survival rests with Skulduggery Pleasant and his teenage partner, Valkyrie Cain, and we all know how things work out when Skulduggery gets involved.

This short Skuduggery adventure packs the same punch as the longer stories and is full of the magic, action and humour that you love about the Skulduggery books.  The coolest thing about this story is that it kicks off in a library.  Imagine, you’re choosing your books or reading quietly in a corner when fireballs start being thrown around, shelves go flying and Skulduggery and Valkyrie come storming into the library!  That would be the BEST DAY EVER!  As well as the main story, there’s also a bonus short story featuring the winners of the Australia/New Zealand character competition.

Derek Landy is coming to New Zealand in August so don’t forget to enter the competition to go in the draw to meet Derek in person.  Also, make sure you enter our Free Book Friday competition this week for the chance to win a copy of The End of the World.

Comments off

Are you Skulduggery’s biggest fan?

If you answered yes to the question above you just might have the chance to meet Derek Landy, the creator of Skulduggery Pleasant, when he comes to New Zealand for his 2012 Down Under Tour in August.  If that isn’t enough, you’ll also get a complete set of Skulduggery books, signed by Derek.  All you have to do to have the chance to meet Derek Landy is go to his website and answer these two questions:

  1. Gordon Edgley is, amongst other things, a horror writer and uncle. He is also dead. Stephanie, his beloved niece, is saddened by this unexpected event. In the first Skulduggery Pleasant Book you are introduced to the rest of Gordon’s family. Name the other family members who make an appearance in the sample chapter on the website.
  2. Tell them in 25 words or less why it should be you meeting Derek Down Under.

What are you waiting for?  Go to to enter.  You can also listen to a FREE audio book of the very first Skulduggery Pleasant book on his website.

Comments (2) »

Why Horror?

Whenever I do a school event, I always ask this question: “How many of you have watched films your parents don’t know about/would disapprove of?” And you know what? Every time I ask it, I get a sea of hands in the air!

Horror is kind of dangerous, isn’t it? Whether reading it or watching it, we’re scared to find out what happens next, but we can’t help ourselves. I can imagine it’s been like this since we humans first started telling stories round fires outside caves. Why? Well, if you’ve just hunted a mammoth and barely survived with your life, you’re going to tell a great story and have loads of listeners on the edge of their seat! But if you come back and say, “Yeah, well, it was easy really,” and that’s about it, no one’s really going to want to listen, are they?

We like a good tale. We also like one that’s exciting, scary, dangerous, weird, exhausting… And I’ve always preferred books that make me nervous to find out what’s going to happen to the point where I’m breathless as I turn to the next chapter.

I remember as a kid creeping downstairs in the middle of the night, so as not to wake the parents, to watch a horror movie on TV, because I really don’t want them to know that I’d just seen a head explode in full-blown technicolour, and some terrifying demon launch itself at the next hapless victim, claws dripping in blood…

So that’s why I write horror. I want to write the kind of stuff that you hope to god your parents don’t find under your bed or in your school bag because, at heart I’m still 12, sitting up watching late-night splatter fests, and hoping my parents don’t find out. And you know what? I’m just fine with that.

Comments (2) »

Where do YOU write?

I’ve been writing, writing, writing, for years and years and years. And in all that time, I’ve written in all kinds of places. I once wrote a whole novel (70,000 words!) on the train to and from work over a period of about five weeks. I was surrounded by commuters, squashed into a little seat, yet somehow I managed (and got lots of very odd looks!) I’ve written in airport lounges, cafes, front rooms, dining rooms, libraries, under trees, in churches…

The thing I’m wondering is, does where you write affect what you write? I think it’s a bit of both. As writers, and as people, we’re affected utterly by our surroundings. After all, much of where I get my ideas from lies in all that I see/do/hear/smell/read/watch/experience (etc). When I look back at all those different places I’ve scribbled in, each one has only really been possible because I’ve managed to shut myself away, often with music and headphones.

I’m currently looking at getting myself a writing shed. This is very exciting, even though it doesn’t sound it! Imagine though, a place all to yourself to just go and sit and think and write and invent crazy new worlds and ideas and monsters and heroes and heroines and adventures. How ace is that?

So where do you go to get creative or to read or think or write or just “be”? And if you haven’t got anywhere, is there some way that you can change that?

I’ll keep you posted on the shed…


Comments (5) »

March Star Author – David Gatward

Our magnificent March Star Author is British author, David Gatward.  David is the author of three incredibly creepy horror stories called The Dead, The Dark, and The Damned, as well as a stand-alone book called The Cave.

He had his first book published aged 18 but it’s taken many more years and life experiences to lead to writing The Dead. Seeing two ghosts, being mistaken for a homeless person and almost drowning have given David plenty of food for thought, but it’s his family who’ve been a big inspiration. Now living in rural Somerset with his wife and two boys, David writes full-time and hopes to see ghost number three very shortly.

Thanks for joining us David!  We look forward to reading all about you and your books.

Comments (3) »

March Star Author Competition

Our March Star Author, David Gatward has been telling us about his book, The Dead.  It’s the first in a series of 3 seriously creepy books and this week we a set of David’s books to give away.  Please note: the books are aimed at age 12+ so they are not ideal for younger readers.

To get in the draw to win all you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling us ‘What is your scariest moment?’ Leave a comment with your answer, your name and email address (so that we can contact you if you win).

Thanks to everyone who entered the March Star Author Competition.  The winner of the David Gatward book pack is:  Connor.  Please check your email to find out how to claim your prize.

Comments (9) »

Seriously Spooky Guest Post: Barry Hutchison

I have a confession to make. I always hated horror.

That might seem like a strange thing for a horror author to say, but stick with me here. I don’t hate horror now. But I did for a long time, and for two very different reasons.

As a kid, between the ages of about 5 and 11, I lived in a near perpetual state of terror. I was scared of dogs, cats, birds… goldfish. You name it, it scared me senseless. I was afraid of being in high places, wide open spaces, narrow spaces. I was terrified of being on my own, but equally alarmed by large groups. When my friends came to the door to ask if I wanted to go out, I’d refuse, suspecting that I’d probably drop dead the moment I stepped outside. Then be mauled by a tiger. And picked clean by vultures.

That was why I didn’t read horror when I was young. I was constantly terrified as it was. The last thing I wanted was to add fuel to the fire by picking up a Clive Barker or Stephen King or whoever. It took me all my courage just to open the fridge, fearing as I did that some sort of cheese creature might be waiting to leap out at me.

The second reason I used to hate horror is a bit more complicated.

When I was 11, there came a moment when I knew I had to overcome the fears that threatened to cripple my life. That moment came when I returned home from school one day to find my house empty. Usually my mum was at home after school, but on this particular day there was no sign of her. Immediately I was on the defensive. I could feel my heart speeding up. Something was out of the ordinary. Something was wrong.

But I had a more pressing worry. I was too scared to use the toilets in school, and so I would always arrive home desperate for a pee. This day was no exception, and my bladder was fit for bursting when I arrived at the house. The problem was the bathroom was upstairs in my house, and as far as I was concerned, there were monsters upstairs just waiting for the opportunity to eat me alive.

So I had a dilemma. Be eaten by monsters, or wet myself?

And then a third option presented itself, when I spotted the kitchen sink.

“This is it!” I thought. I could pee in the sink, run the tap for a minute, and no-one need ever know. Unfortunately I wasn’t quite as tall then as I am now, and I couldn’t quite manage to reach the sink. So I came up with a plan where I would jump up, prop myself up on my arms, quickly pee in the sink, then jump back down. Everything was going to be OK.

So, I got myself primed and ready. I took up my position by the sink. I bent my knees, straightened my arms, and I jumped.

What I had failed to take into account was that above the kitchen sink in my house was a row of kitchen cabinets. As I leaped, I cracked my skull on the bottom of the cabinets, and I woke up on the kitchen floor five minutes later. In a puddle of pee. With blood pouring from my head, and I thought, “This can’t go on.”

So I set about training myself not to be scared of things. I analyzed things that worried or frightened me, figuring out why I was scared and finding ways to overcome each fear in turn. Eventually, I trained myself out of almost all of my irrational fears and after that life started to feel a bit boring. I missed the constant adrenaline rush that came with always being afraid, and so I began reading horror books to try to claw that feeling back. It never worked. No matter what I read, none of it was able to scare me to the extent my own imagination had for years. The thoughts in my head were scarier than those in Stephen King’s or Clive Barker’s, and that was when I decided that I should really try writing a horror book some day…

Comments (1) »

Win a set of Invisible Fiends books by Barry Hutchison

This week we’ll be joined by seriously spooky author, Barry Hutchison, author of the creepy Invisible Fiends series.  The series is about a boy called Kyle whose invisible friend he had when he was younger comes back to try and kill him.  They’re some of my favourite seriously spooky books and are great for anyone who likes the Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy.  On Wednesday Barry Hutchison will be joining us on the blog to talk about what he was scared of when he was a kid.

We have a set of the first 3 Invisible Fiends books (Mr Mumbles, Raggy Maggie and The Crowmaster) to give away this week.  To get in the draw to win all 3 books, all you have to do is tell us: If you had an invisible friend what would its name be?  Leave a comment on this post with your answer, your name and email address (so that we can contact you if you win).  Competition closes Friday 21 October.

See below for terms and conditions     Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (12) »

Skulduggery Pleasant: Death Bringer by Derek Landy

If you’re a huge fan of Skulduggery Pleasant like me, you’ve been waiting a whole year to find out what happens next to Skulduggery Pleasant and his side-kick Valkyrie Cain.  We were left wondering whether Valkyrie’s dark side would show her head and there was a feeling of impending doom.  Death Bringer doesn’t disappoint and there are plenty of thrill, chills and surprises to keep you on your toes.

Even before I started the story, Derek’s dedication made me crack up so I knew this book was going to be great.  The story starts with you meeting Melancholia St. Clair, a young Necromancer who Craven has chosen to be the Death Bringer.  Who and what the Death Bringer is is revealed throughout the book.  We’re reunited with Skulduggery and Valkyrie when they question a reporter who has been trying to dig up information about some strange disappearances that have occurred recently.  It appears someone is trying to cover up the truth about the Death Bringer and The Passage, and Skulduggery and Valkyrie are determined to get to the bottom of it.  When they discover the truth they must do anything they can to capture Melancholia and stop The Passage.

Death Bringer is a huge book with so much packed into it and I didn’t want it to end.  Skulduggery and Valkyrie face some terrible truths in this book and the line between good and evil is blurred.  You discover more about Skulduggery’s past and get inside Valkyrie’s head.  Because we’re getting close to the end of the series (only 3 more books to go), the story is getting darker and there’s less focus on some of the minor characters.  There’s still plenty of Derek Landy’s humour shining through though and a couple of parts had me laughing out loud, especially this part when Skulduggery meets a family travelling through Roarhaven.

“Ah,” Skulduggery said, “yes.  Very rude man, that shopkeeper.  All’s well, though?  No harm done? Excellent.”  He crouched at the car window and looked in.  “What a lovely family you have.  What a charming family.  They’re all lovely.  Except for that one.”  His finger jabbed the glass.  “That one’s a bit ugly.”

One of my favourite parts has to be the fight between Fletcher and Caelan.  It’s shows you exactly what Derek thinks of Twilight and some of the insults they throw at each other are classic.  Some of my favourite characters are back too, including Vaurien Scapegrace, the decomposing vampire and his follower, Thrasher.  There are also some great new character names including Dexter Vex, Melancholia St Clair and Oblivious.  If you’re a fan of Skulduggery Pleasant make sure you reserve your copy of Death Bringer at the library now, or if you haven’t read any of the series make sure you get your hands on the first Skulduggery Pleasant book.   Recommended for 9+      10 out of 10

Comments (3) »

Win Skulduggery Pleasant: Death Bringer

The thrilling sixth book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy, Death Bringer, has just been released in New Zealand.  Skulduggery is one of my favourite characters and the series keeps getting better and better.  If you haven’t already read the first 5 books you should rush to your library or bookshop and get them right now.  Each of the books in the series are packed with thrills, chills, action, battles and plenty of laughs.

Thanks to HarperCollins New Zealand we have 2 copies of Death Bringer to give away.  All you have to do to get in the draw to win a copy is to tell us what you love about the Skulduggery Pleasant books.  It could be a particular part of one of the books, a favourite character, or even your favourite quote.  Leave a comment on this post with your answer, your name and your email address (so that we can contact you if you win).  Competition closes Friday 9 September.

See below for terms and conditions.  Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (4) »

Countdown to Skulduggery Pleasant: Death Bringer

Skulduggery Pleasant is one of my favourite book characters and I always look forward to his latest battle against the forces of evil.  Luckily I only have to wait a few more weeks as the sixth book, Death Bringer is due out in New Zealand on September 1.  I can’t wait to be reunited with Skulduggery, Valkyrie, Ghastly and Tanith.

If you haven’t read any of the Skulduggery Pleasant books by Derek Landy I highly recommend them.  They’re filled with action, mystery, thrills, chills, brilliant characters and perfectly-timed humour.  If you want a taste of this awesome series, here’s the book trailer:

You can reserve your copy of Death Bringer at your local library now.

Keep your eye on the blog for your chance to WIN a copy of Death Bringer!

Comments off

%d bloggers like this: