Book Title: The Haunting of Aveline Jones (available here)
Author: Phil Hickes
Illustrator: Keith Robinson
Publication Date: September 2020
Most Suitable For: Upper KS2+
Reviewed By: Angela Kent
This is a deliciously dark and spine-chilling tale of mystery and ghosts. Phil Hickes’s descriptively spooky tale is much darker than I was expecting from this middle-grade novel, and is definitely not for the sensitive reader!
When Aveline is left to spend half-term with her Auntie in a quiet coastal town, she never expected the mystery she would uncover or the danger she would find herself in. Atmospherically written, this absorbing storyline feels so realistic. The unfolding folklore throughout the story kept me intrigued – from the Lady in the water to her connection to the Malmouth scarecrows. In addition to this, I was completely invested in Aveline’s plight and the terror she felt. I loved the charming and unique cast of characters we were introduced to in Malmouth, especially Mr Lieberman and his quirky second-hand bookshop (which I have to admit had me wishing I owned a second hand bookshop).
The idea that second-hand books could connect you to their previous owner I found fascinating, as well as the developing relationship and understanding between Aveline and Primrose (counteracting the horrifying Lady character and suggesting that not all ghosts have evil intentions).
The use of Keith Robinson’s illustrations within the book only enhance the eeriness of the story, especially the rather sinister looking child scarecrows. Equally, the addition of the Book Club Questions (at the back of this book), would certainly be a useful tool if you were using this for a book club or as a guided reading text.
This is a spectacular, haunting tale that will be devoured by readers who love scary stories and who are not too easily spooked!
Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to our Review Panel member for reviewing it.
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