Sunday 20 August 2017

. . . and there is plenty of horror for teens

Skulduggery Pleasant: Mortal Coil Derek Landy (Harper Collins, €10.99) Birth of a Killer Darren Shan (HarperCollins, €14.50) More Bloody Horowitz Anthony Horowitz (Walker Books, £9.99 )

Horror is a rising genre in the children's literature world and three of its best writer -- Derek Landy, Darren Shan and Anthony Hororwitz -- have new books out this month.

The Skulduggery Pleasant series by Dubliner Derek Landy has already had huge international success with sales of more than a million copies. There is a Skulduggery movie in the pipeline, and he is being widely touted as the 'next' JK Rowling.

And the great news is he's getting better and better with every book.

In Mortal Coil, book five in the series, his writing is sharper, his characters so realistic they jump off the page, and the action never lets up, pulling the reader along on a wild and thrilling journey into the depths of a perfectly realised fantasy version of Dublin. Will Skulduggery and Valkyrie save the world from the dark forces? Frankly, at this stage I hope not -- not for at least another five books that is!

Fellow Irishman Darren Shan has sold over 15 million books worldwide in 31 different languages, and already has one Hollywood film under his belt. His new novel, Birth of a Killer, is back in familiar territory.

Shan's first horror novel for children, Cirque du Freak, was published 10 years ago, and now the story comes full circle, telling the life story of Larten Crepsley, the vampire from Cirque who "started as a nobody but ended up changing the world forever".

It's unnerving stuff I could barely read the section set in the 19th century, where Traz, the foreman of the silk cocoon factory, drowns Larten's young cousin in a bubbling vat.

Larten attacks and kills the foreman and then has to flee for his life.

Shan says in his succinct, direct style: "There was no home for him in the city any more. He was all alone in the world, and marked for death."

Then Larten finds himself in a graveyard where he encounters Seba Nile, a vampire, and makes the decision that will colour his entire future.

Shan is a very underestimated writer. His writing is slick, his dialogue sharp and clever, his plotting immaculate. His books ooze with the kind of creepy, dark atmosphere and powerful characters that young teenage readers lap up. Shan is another writer who is honing his craft with every book, and I look forward to the next gore-fest with relish.

And finally, More Bloody Horowitz by Anthony Horowitz. Indeed! But I can't see any fan, young or old, complaining. This is a beautifully produced large format paperback, designed to look like a magazine, with a delightfully macabre skeleton cover.

Inside are a host of spooky tales that reminded me of Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected. They are snappily written and jammed with clever ideas.

Don't miss 'The Man Who Killed Darren Shan'. Just the kind of thing to keep teenagers reading. More please!

Sarah Webb's new book for age 10+, Ask Amy Green: Bridesmaid Blitz is out now

Irish Independent

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