Tag Archives: grim

Book Review: The Death House by Sarah Pinborough

Published 26th February 2015 by Orion Books.

24597331Goodreads Synopsis: Toby’s life was perfectly normal . . . until it was unravelled by something as simple as a blood test.

Taken from his family, Toby now lives in the Death House; an out-of-time existence far from the modern world, where he, and the others who live there, are studied by Matron and her team of nurses. They’re looking for any sign of sickness. Any sign of their wards changing. Any sign that it’s time to take them to the sanatorium.

No one returns from the sanatorium.

Withdrawn from his house-mates and living in his memories of the past, Toby spends his days fighting his fear. But then a new arrival in the house shatters the fragile peace, and everything changes.

Because everybody dies. It’s how you choose to live that counts.

My Review: I hadn’t heard of The Death House until I received a proof copy, but after reading the blurb I was sure I would enjoy it! The concept sounded very chilling and dark, and it definitely was – it’s very unsettling at points.

The concept of the story is that if you get a certain result on a blood test as a child, you are sent to the Death House – here you stay with the other infected kids, similar to a boarding school, but there’s seemingly no way out… Unless you start to show symptoms and you’re taken to the sanatorium. Which nobody ever returns from.

I liked the mysterious concept, as Sarah leaves much to the imagination of the reader. I tried to come up with possibilities and answers, my mind running away with all sorts of scenarios of the outside world. The whole book is very eerie, because nothing about this illness, and not much about the outside world, is fully explained. However it did get to the point where I just needed to know how and what and why. I was a little sad the ending didn’t completely wrap it up – the last few pages were incredibly tragic but I felt at the end that there was something missing.

I’m quite mixed on the characters. They are incredibly well fleshed-out, real-feeling teenagers, and yet I just didn’t… Attach to them very much… Oh god I have no heart. I really don’t know why, but I know I’m in the minority of people who are mixed on this book – There have been so many five star reviews, and I can completely see why so many people have found this book, particularly the characters, truly astounding. Of course, there were a couple of bits I got quite choked up at but I just never felt like I was 100% into the story.

Overall, The Death House was a very evocative, quick read – I really recommend it if you’re looking for a very chilling, mysterious standalone novel. It’s hard to place it into a category, because it felt almost like a zombie novel, and it looks and feels like a dark horror, but it reads like a YA contemporary romance – quite bizarre sounding, but it’s incredibly memorable. I know I’m one of a small number of people who hasn’t enjoyed this just as much of others – for some reason, something just didn’t click with me – but I’m confident most people will be rendered completely awestruck by Pinborough’s inventive plot.

My Rating: 

three and a half

I received a copy of The Death House from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

 BBC pointed shaded


Book Review: Shiver The Whole Night Through by Darragh McManus

Published 6th November 2014 by Hot Key Books.

22554125Goodreads Synopsis: After months of bullying and romantic heartbreak, seventeen-year-old Aidan Flood feels just about ready to end it all. But when he wakes up one morning to find that local beauty and town sweetheart Sláine McAuley actually has, he discovers a new sense of purpose, and becomes determined to find out what happened to her. The town is happy to put it down to suicide, but then one night Aidan gets a message, scratched in ice on his bedroom window: ‘I didn’t kill myself.’ Who is contacting him? And if Sláine didn’t end her own life… who did?

(First things first, let’s just stare at the cover for Shiver for a while. Whoa. That is the coolest thing.)

My Review: I dived into Shiver The Whole Night Through as soon as I could after receiving it, as there’s been a lot of hype around this book, and of course, I’m always eager to read new début YA titles!

From the first page, I was completely absorbed the story, with the shocking event it opens with. I was also a little surprised by the narration of the book: I’ve tried to collect my thoughts about it properly but I honestly don’t know how I feel about it! I think Darragh McManus has captured a very unique and real-feeling voice, though I felt at quite a few points that the narration sounded too cocky, which bugged me a little.

As I am with the narration, I’m a little mixed on the main character. I really loved the author’s character building skills, as Aidan Flood felt like a very realistic person to me. I liked him as a protagonist, especially at the beginning, but he did seem a little strange, in terms of his actions and feelings… He seemed eerily okay with some terrifying, and grim, things that happened in the book!

I really enjoyed how the plot progressed; there was lots of great foreshadowing and little hints as to what was coming – I thought I had the ending completely correct, but when I got to it, I was just completely wrong! The story begins at a very grim point, but it spirals into an even darker state with each chapter.The horror elements were really great and chilling; I definitely got shivers (no pun intended) up my spine while reading.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Shiver The Whole Night Through, though it wasn’t what I’d expected and I’m a little mixed on some things. I was, well and truly, hooked  – There was never an uneventful chapter. It’s a brilliant read for those who want to curl up this winter with a thrilling and chilly story! I’m probably in the minority though, but there was a few parts I didn’t really enjoy, or thought could have been written differently – though I do applaud Darragh McManus for writing a really creeeeepy début.

My Rating:





I received a copy of Shiver The Whole Night Through from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Mini Reviews: Coraline and The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy


Two mini reviews for Halloween Reads today- of Modern Classics that should be read by every kid! (Though I’d say Oyster Boy is for more of eleven plus. It’s a bit grim). I’ve loved both of these for years, and re-read them for this October…

CoralineCoraline is one of those beautiful children’s books that you’ll want to curl up with at any age. It’s engaging, funny, and imaginative- perfect for anyone! Coraline is a really relatable character, as a young teenage girl who’s a bit too lonely and often ignored or misheard. I loved reading (and re-reading) her rather scary story! It was, strangely, even eerier reading this as a thirteen-and-a-half year old, as opposed to a nine-year-old.The plot was dramatic and tense, full of scary thoughts on a parallel universe. It’s a quick read, Coraline- I think I would have loved it even more than I already do if it had been longer, more detailed, more explained.

Parts skipped ahead very, very quickly, and also, unless you’ve watched the movie, parts aren’t explained as well. OH, and I didn’t realise how different the book was to the story! Wybie, the male character in the movie, isn’t in the book, though I thought I remembered him being there. I loved Wybie! Apart from that, a great spooky story to curl up with! Plus, it’s full of Dave McKean’s awesome illustrations, so that is a bonus.


The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other StoriesThe Melancholy Death Of Oyster Boy And Other Stories is a ridiculously long title. Here on it’s referred to as Oyster Boy.

Anyway! Oyster Boy is a poetic oddity, by Tim Burton. Until Dad bought me this a few years ago, I had no idea my favourite director wrote poetry! All of these poems in this slim little book follow a theme, though it’s not so visible in some: all of the pieces follow children, or people, who are different from everyone else and so things mostly end badly. By different… I mean a boy who’s half microwave, a penguin boy, a matchstick boy, a girl with ten eyes, and an oyster boy, to name a few. Burton has created loveable yet freaky characters, who you can sympathize with despite their general freakiness. The poems are all brilliant, but very simple four-line stanzas. As a poetry fan, or a horror fan, you’ll love these! They’re great to curl up with on Halloween, as they’re eerie but also uplifting, sometimes.


My Ratings:


to Coraline


to Oyster Boy

both books were bought for me as Halloween presents, years ago, and were picked up for re-reads!