The Impossible Boy

The Impossible Boy was written by Ben Brooks and first published in 2019. It is a fantasy story aimed at middle grade readers, focusing on two children who find themselves in trouble when something they created comes to life. The novel stands alone, so you do not need to read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Oleg Duchownik and Emma Morley have felt a bit lonely since their other friend moved away. This is part of the reason why they invent Sebastian Cole to fool a new teacher. Sebastian is another student at the school, but one who lives a fantastical life. He has his own personal spaceship, a bag that can make anything, and is always off on wonderful (and unlikely) adventures. It comes as a shock to both of them when Sebastian suddenly appears in their den. Not only is he real, but he is able to make the impossible possible.

It’s not long before other strange things happen around town. A goat invades their school and Emma witnesses a horde of snowwomen on the hunt for colder climates. It seems fun at first, but things rapidly become more sinister when mirrored vans and people in crow masks appear on street corners. The Institute of Unreality have been tasked with maintaining world order. They want to capture and erase Sebastian before his existence destabilises the whole world.

It’s not long before Oleg and Emma find themselves on a dangerous adventure to save their friend. Their quest takes them deep into a government facility where all the strangest things on the planet are stored. Will they manage to find a way to save their new friend? Or will his continued existence actually end up destroying the world?

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Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels here:

Twilight | New Moon | Eclipse | Breaking Dawn | The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined was written by Stephenie Meyer and first published in 2015. It is a special edition of Twilight that was published for the 10th Anniversary of the original book, retelling the story while flipping the genders of a majority of the cast. While the novel stands alone, you would probably appreciate it more if you are already familiar with the main series – Twilight (2005), New Moon (2006), Eclipse (2007), Breaking Dawn (2008) and The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner (2009).

As Beaufort Swan’s mother sets off travelling with her new husband, he has no choice but to move to Forks to stay with his father. At first, Beau isn’t too impressed with this change of scenery. Forks is wet and gloomy, and everyone else at school has know each other their whole lives. Even though Beau proves to be very popular with the girls, he soon finds that he is not interested in any of them. But that is before he notices Edythe Cullen.

Edythe is beautiful, mysterious and clearly wants to have nothing to do with him. Unfortunately, Beau is unable to get Edythe out of his mind. However, when Edythe saves Beau from being crushed by a car, he begins to realise that there is something different about her. As Beau grows closer to Edythe, he soon learns the truth. There is a reason why Edythe cannot stand to be close to him, and why she is mysteriously absent from school whenever they have a particularly sunny day.

As Beau and Edythe come to realise that their feelings for each other are more than just friendship, a new danger descends on Forks. When Beau becomes the target of a dangerous woman, Edythe and her family draw together to protect him. But will their combined strength be enough to defend Beau from such a powerful – and determined – foe…

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Point Horror 16-20

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels here:

1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15

It’s time to take another look at the Point Horror series. Hooray! In case this is the first of my posts that you have read, Point Horror was a young adult anthology series that was published between 1991 and 2014. As this is intended to be more of a retrospective look at the series, please do bear in mind that this post contains massive spoilers for the books in question.

In The Cheerleader (written by Caroline B. Cooney), Althea has always dreamed of being popular but no one in school seems to notice her. However, that is before she first encounters the vampire. The mysterious creature promises that it has the power to grant her deepest desires, but in return Althea has to provide it with a victim. While the vampire is true to his word, it’s not long before Althea realises that his hunger is endless. Does she have the strength to stop him, even if it means losing her newfound popularity?

In The Girlfriend (written by R.L. Stine), Scotty and Lora have always been a couple yet, when Lora is out of town, this doesn’t stop Scotty from going out on a date with Shannon. Scotty justifies this slip by rationalising that nothing really happened, but now Shannon seems convinced that they are a couple. She won’t stop calling him, and turns violent when Scotty tries to turn her down gently. How can he find a way to make Shannon stop, and what will Scotty do if Lora finds out about his mistake?

In The Invitation (written by Diane Hoh), only the most popular kids are invited to the wild parties at Cass’s mansion. When Sarah and her friends all receive invitations, Sarah is sure that it’s some kind of mistake. After all, they barely know Cass. When they arrive at the party, they discover the horrible truth. They aren’t intended to be guests – they are to be some kind of sick party game for the other revellers. However, things quickly grow nasty as someone else uses Cass’s game as an excuse to target Sarah and her friends. Can Sarah free all of them before they fall victim to the killer’s cruel traps?

In The Snowman (written by R.L. Stine), Heather has undergone years of abuse at the hands of her cruel uncle. Not only does he control all of her money, but he is constantly trying to ruin all of her relationships. When Heather meets Snowman, she is immediately blown off her feet. He is attractive, charming and seems to be unfazed by her Uncle Jack. For a while, everything seems to be perfect, but then Heather sees Snowman for who he really is. How can she manage to break her ties with Snowman, when he has the power to ensure that she is implicated in a murder?

In Beach House (written by R.L. Stine), the beach was once the scene of a horrible spree of murders. It all began when Maria was supposedly devoured by sharks, but after that her friends were all targeted one by one by the evil Buddy. However, 40 years later, it all seems to be happening again. When Ashley’s friends, Lynn and Kip, both vanish, she realises that that something sinister is going on. But how does this connect to the mysterious, abandoned beach house?

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Incendiary

Incendiary was written by Zoraida Córdova and first published in 2020. It is a fantasy novel set in a world where a puritanical king has virtually hunted magic users to extinction. The novel forms the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

Most of Andalucía has fallen under the control of a tyrant. King Fernando of Puerto Leones has gradually expanded his empire to take over the surrounding kingdoms. Yet Memoria has been hit harder than most. The Moria were once formidable magic users, but Fernando’s Justices have largely wiped them out. From the ashes of Memoria has formed a rebel faction – the Whispers – who have dedicated themselves to protecting their surviving people and bringing an end to Fernando’s reign.

Renata Convida longs to be recognised by the Whispers, but it seems like they will always view her as a traitor. Not only is she a rare Robári – a memory thief – but she also was once the property of Justice Méndez. Although she was just a child at the time, her people have not forgotten the fact that she once sold them out to the Justices in exchange for sweets and favours, and are always quick to remind her of this fact.

When a mission goes wrong and Renata’s captain and love is taken prisoner by the enemy, she knows that she must do everything in her power to save him. Even if that means returning to the capital and Méndez’s care once again. Her goal is to have her revenge against the monarchy by killing the King’s heir – a bloodthirsty monster called Castian – and destroying a weapon that he has created which supposedly strips Moria of their powers. Yet, as she spends more time in the palace, she begins to uncover an unexpected mystery with the Prince at its centre. Just what is going on, and how are the Whispers connected?

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Point Horror 11-15

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels here:

1-5 | 6-10

It’s time for another nostalgic look back at the Point Horror series. In case you’ve missed my last couple of reviews, Point Horror was a Young Adult horror anthology series that was published between 1991 and 2014. Please note that, as there seems to be some debate as to the publication order of these books, I am working my way through a list that I pulled off Wikipedia. Also, as this is a retrospective post, there will be massive spoilers for the books in question. You have been warned.

In The Boyfriend (written by R.L. Stine), Joanna has everything that she could possibly want: money, freedom and a loving boyfriend. However, Dex is poor and she knows that the wealthy Shep would be a better prospect for her. Yes, before she can break-up with Dex, he dies in a sudden accident. Joanna is sorry, but glad that this now frees her up to pursue Shep. That is, until Dex comes back from the dead…

In Teacher’s Pet (written by Ritchie Tankersley Cuisick), Kate loves writing and is overjoyed when she wins a place on a writer’s retreat. Finally, she will have the chance to learn from William Drewe – a horror master. However, she is disappointed when she arrives to find that William has gone missing and his handsome brother, Gideon, has taken over his classes. It’s not long before things start to get strange. As Kate slowly becomes Gideon’s favourite, it becomes clear that someone is jealous. Someone who is prepared to kill…

In Mother’s Helper (written by A. Bates), Becky is excited to start her job as a mother’s helper on a remote holiday island. Devon is a dream to look after and it’s not long before she takes a liking to local boy, Cleve. However, Becky also soon starts to release that something is not right. Why is Devon’s mother, Mrs Nelson, so worried about Becky spending time in town? And why does she not seem to know the first thing about looking after her own son?

In The Accident (written by Diane Hoh), Megan is shocked when three of her friends are injured in a car accident, but stranger still is the misty figure that appears in her mirror. Juliet claims to be the spirit of a girl who died 40 years before. She is desperate to experience life again for just one week and begs Megan to switch places with her. In return, Juliet promises to help Megan find out who caused the accident. But can Juliet be trusted, and will she be prepared to give Megan’s body back once the week is over?

In The Baby-Sitter II (written by R.L. Stine), Jenny is understandably traumatised by her past experiences as a baby-sitter, but is sure that the only way to conquer her fears is to get back out there. However, Eli is a very strange little boy. He has vicious mood swings and keeps tarantulas as pets. It’s not long after Jenny starts her new job that the phone calls start again, promising her that “Company’s Coming”. But Mr Hagen is dead, isn’t he?

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Point Horror 6-10

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my review of these novels [here].

I was not expecting to post another retrospective so soon, yet I’m bored of lockdown and certainly getting a lot of reading done!

Let’s take another look at Point Horror – a young adult anthology series that was published between 1991 and 2014. Please note that I’ve selected the reviewing order of these books based on a list that I pulled off Wikipedia, as there seems to be some debate regarding the publication order of these novels. This review is also intended to be more of a retrospective, and therefore contains massive spoilers for the novels in question.

In My Secret Admirer (written by Carol Ellis), Jenny has only just moved to town and her parents have already left her home alone. Luckily, some of the locals invite her to take part in a scavenger hunt in the mountain foothills. Jenny is nervous, but things go from bad to worse when Diana Benson has a terrible accident and falls off a cliff. The next day, Jenny starts to get calls and gifts from a secret admirer. Is someone really interested in her, or does some one think that she knows something about the accident. Someone who wants to be sure that Jenny keeps her mouth shut…

In April Fools (written by Ritchie Tankersley Cusick), Belinda is driving home from a party when she is involved in a terrible accident. The other car swerves off a cliff, but Belinda’s friends force her to leave it and run away. Two weeks later, the pranks start. Someone seems to know that Belinda was involved and is intent on making her suffer. Yet things get worse still when Belinda is asked to mentor a sick teenager named Adam. Especially when she learns that Adam was injured in a car accident two weeks prior…

In Final Exam (written by A Bates), Kelly’s biggest fear is of exams. No matter how hard she studies, she always freezes under pressure. Finals week gets off to a strange start when she discovers another student’s journal – one filled with intense self-help messages about being a “winner”. With other things on her mind, Kelly pockets the journal and goes on with her business. Yet it’s not long before things get strange. What start out as harmless pranks against Kelly grow more sinister, almost as though someone does not want her to graduate. What secrets could possibly hidden within the journal, and why would someone be prepared to kill to get it back?

In Funhouse (written by Diane Hoh), the Santa Luisa Boardwalk is a popular meeting place for teenagers. That is, until the day that the Devil’s Elbow roller coaster flies off the rails, leaving one dead and two seriously injured. Although everyone thinks that it was a tragic accident, Tess is sure that she saw a dark figure hanging around beneath the tracks just before the incident occurred. Now, it seems that someone is targeting her. Someone wants Tess silenced, and will hurt anyone who gets in their way.

In Beach Party (written by R.L. Stine), Karen’s father has let her stay alone in his beach-front apartment for the whole summer. What better chance for her and her best friend Ann-Marie to soak up the sun and party the night away? It’s not long before Karen meets two cute guys – handsome Jerry and bad-boy Vince – and struggles to pick who she likes best. But then the messages start. Someone is desperate to keep Karen away from Jerry at all costs. Although Karen dismisses this as being from a jealous ex-girlfriend at first, she soon starts to have her doubts when it becomes clear that the stranger is prepared to kill if she doesn’t obey…

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Point Horror 1-5

It’s time to begin a new series of my retrospective reviews. Hooray! As I’ve now read through every single Animorphs and classic Goosebumps book, I think it’s time to now turn my attention to some classic horror stories for older teens. That’s right, it’s time to revisit Point Horror.

In case you’re unfamiliar, Point Horror is a anthology series that was published by Scholastic between 1991 and 2014. Early instalments were just re-prints of earlier Scholastic titles, but the series achieved massive popularity in the mid-nineties and was a staple favourite of every teen. The stories are somewhat darker than Goosebumps books, often focusing on older teens as they are targeted by stalkers and psychopaths. Please note that, as per all of my other retrospectives, this post will contain massive spoilers for the novels in question.

In Twisted (written by R.L. Stine), Abby is determined to become a Tri Gam as it is the most exclusive sorority on campus and the only accepts a chosen few each year. The thing that she was not prepared for was the hazing. To become a Tri Gam, the pledges need to commit a crime. However, when something goes horribly wrong and someone winds up dead, Abby and the new pledges are forced to band together to hide their shared secret…

In The Lifeguard (written by Ritchie Tankersley Cusick), Kelsey’s summer holiday on Beverly Island begins in disaster. She was supposed to be staying with her mum’s new boyfriend but his teenage daughter, Beth, has vanished. As Kelsey explores the island, she soon learns that Beth is not the first. A number of young women have mysteriously drowned off the coast of the Island. It’s almost like the local lifeguards aren’t doing a very good job…

In Party Line (written by A Bates), Mark is addicted to calling the Party Line as he finds it so much easier to talk anonymously to girls. It’s not long before he begins to recognise different voices, especially the sleazy and desperate “Ben”. However, when a girl goes missing shortly after agreeing to meet with Ben, Mark starts to realise that perhaps Party Line isn’t as harmless as it seems. But will he be able to track down Ben in real life without becoming one of his victims?

In The Baby-Sitter (written by R.L. Stine), Jenny is thrilled to be offered a regular baby-sitting gig after a chance meeting at the mall. However, when she first visits the Hagen house, she starts to have her doubts. It is really run-down and their neighbour is more than a little sinister, and there have also been those attacks on baby-sitters in the area. Then, the threatening phone calls start, promising her that “Company’s Coming”. Will Jenny manage to keep her wits about her and survive the night, or will she become another victim…

In Trick or Treat (written by Ritchie Tankersley Cusick), Martha isn’t happy to leave Chicago and move to the sticks to live with her new stepmother and her teenage son, Connor. However, she feels worse still when she sees the old, spooky house where they live. Then the practical jokes start, growing more dangerous and malicious by the day. She soon learns that something terrible once happened in the house, and she could very well be next!

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One of Us Is Next

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for One of Us Is Lying. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Tonight’s review actually serves two purposes. Firstly, this post is the 550th review on this site. Yay for us and thank-you, as always, for your continuing support. This post is also to raise awareness for World Book Night, which is tomorrow. More information on that shortly…

One of Us Is Next was written by Karen M. McManus and first published in 2020. It is a mystery story which focuses on a group of students who are forcibly engaged in a deadly game of Truth or Dare. The novel is a direct sequel to One of Us Is Lying (2017), so I would strongly recommend reading the novels in sequence to fully appreciate what is going on.

A year has passed since Simon’s death, yet the students of Bayview High have never forgotten the horrible game he played. Copycat sites have popped up every now and then, but the school’s strict anti-cyber bullying policy has quickly had them shut down. At last, the “Bayview Four” – Bronwyn, Addy, Cooper and Nate – have been allowed to get on with their lives and graduate. However, it soon becomes clear that the game is not over for those that they have left behind.

It starts as a harmless text from an unknown sender, targeting every student in Maeve’s year. The messenger says that he will be contacting one student with a Truth or Dare. If they forfeit, one of their secrets will be sent directly to everyone they know. No one truly believes it until the sender reveals Phoebe’s dark shame to everyone – a secret that no one else should have been able to find out.

The students quickly become hooked on the game, with everyone keen to choose “Dare” to avoid their secrets being leaked. However, when one of the dares goes horribly wrong and a student is killed, Maeve and her friends realise that the game hides some sinister purpose. Was the death planned and, if so, how does the mastermind seem to know everything about them?

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The Kingdom of Back

The Kingdom of Back was written by Marie Lu and first published in 2020. It is a historical fantasy novel which focuses on the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s older sister, Nannerl. The story stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s previous work to fully appreciate it.

Maria Anna “Nannerl” Mozart lives to perform, but even as a young girl she knows that her days are numbered. Her skills at the clavier will only seem remarkable while she is still a child. Once she is grown, she will be expected to give it all up in order to get married and start a family. Things become worse still when her younger brother, Wolferl, reveals a prodigious talent for composition. How can she hope to be remembered when Wolferl’s star eclipses her own?

As they travel Europe to perform before nobles and Emperors, Nannerl and Wolferl amuse themselves by telling stories of a magical world called the Kingdom of Back. This is a world where rare edelweiss bloom everywhere and trees grow upside down. It’s not long before strange things begin to appear in the night and the Kingdom of Back seems more real. Although Nannerl at first believes she is dreaming, she starts to doubt this when a Faerie Princeling named Hyacinth reveals himself to her.

Hyacinth advises that he is Nannerl’s guardian and wishes to grant her deepest wish. In order to do so, she must compete three tasks for him. At first, Nannerl is excited to help to him the Princeling, but Wolferl seems to grow weaker with every task that she completes. It is not long before she is forced to question exactly what Hyacinth really wants. Who is he, and what will happen if she completes her final task?

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The Night Country

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for The Hazel Wood. You can read my review of this novel [here]

The Night Country was written by Melissa Albert and first published in 2020. It is an urban fantasy novel that focuses on a group of refugees from a dying world who are forced to relocate to modern day New York. The novel is a direct sequel to The Hazel Wood (2018), and Albert also plans to release Tales from the Hinterlands – the fictional book of faerie stories featured in this series – in early 2021.

After Alice’s dangerous escape from the Hinterlands, she though that she would be able to build a better life for herself. However, she has slowly come to realise that the Hinterlands never really lets anyone go. Even though Alice has lost her icy powers, she still struggles to fit in. The human world feels unnatural to her, but the other Stories resent her for the roll she played in destroying their world.

While most of the Stories seem to be harmless enough, Alice soon learns that something dark still stalks amongst them. Something is brutally murdering the Stories, stealing a single body part from every one that that it slays. To make matters worse, the killer also seems to be able to freeze people with a touch. The remaining Stories are now starting to believe that Alice is responsible, and she knows that she needs to find out the killer’s true identity if she is to clear her name.

Meanwhile, in the ruins of the Hinterlands, Ellery Finch is trying to find his way home. As the world collapses around him, he strikes a deal with Iolanthe – a girl who knows how to make doors. All he wants is to return to New York and be with Alice once again. Little does he know that his return will not be easy. His journey takes him to a library of worlds where he learns of the existence of a legendary realm called the Night Country, and the terrible price that was paid to create it…

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