Holiday fiction

11th August 2000 at 01:00
SPOOKY STORIES FIVE DAYS OF THE GHOST. By William Bell. Floris Flyways pound;4.99.

Edinburgh-based Floris has a new list of reprinted modern classics, and this Canadian story is a good advertisement for it. Contemporary children who explore a sacred Indian burial ground learn that there's more to life than the world they can see and touch. Karen is a heroine we like at once and her first-person narrative takes us straight into the story. Fast-moving and exciting, with all the ghostly elements in just the right proportions.

THE WITCH OF LAGG. By Ann Pilling. Collins Children's Books pound;3.99.

This is a book with more texture to it than many written in this genre, being based on historical fact. Colin, Prill and their cousin Oliver become caught up in the echoes of a time when women were punished for suspected witchcraft. Pilling is good with frightening details and genuinely spine-chilling locations.

THE BONE DOG. By Susan Price. Hodder Silver pound;3.99.

Price is another writer who knows how to send shivers up the spine. Her speciality is a narrative voice that is so straightforward and unadorned that the chills take us quite by surprise. What happens when Sarah adds blood, hair, nails and a bone to an old fox fur is truly horrid. A short book, this, but impossible to put down.

THE MIDNIGHT FOLK. By John Masefield. Classic Mammoth pound;4.99.

This is the prequel to the better-known Box of Delights, and from the very first page you feel safe: you're in the hands of a really wonderful storyteller and can relax and enjoy this terrific (and often terrifically funny) quest story. Nibbins the black cat is a splendid character. Give it to Harry Potter fans, who by now should have the stamina for such rich literary fare.

RAVENSGILL. By William Mayne. Hodder Modern Classic pound;4.99.

Not strictly spooky, but full of family fights going back years, and a rewarding story for those who can manage to stick with it. Mayne is not an easy, page-turning sort of writer, but he is a fine stylist. He has a gift for authentic dialogue when you have tuned in to his talk, and there are few writers who bring landscape to life as he does. This one is worth taking truble over.


TELL ME I'M OK, REALLY. By Rosie Rushton. Piccadilly Press pound;5.99.

Georgie's mum is in a psychiatric hospital; things are difficult both at home and at school, and she feels that she, too, might be losing her mind. Enter Flavia Mott, a new neighbour and an unlikely but effective fairy godmother. Rushton's new book shows her moving into more serious territory, but without sacrificing the good sense and humour which her fans have come to expect. This novel is both moving and hopeful.

TERMINAL CHIC. By Chlo Rayban. The Bodley Head pound;10.99.

Justine is back! This time she gets herself transported, if that's the right word, into the future. So fashion-conscious is Justine that she e-mails back to this century and asks for her handbag to be sent after her . . . apparently accessories in the next century are not what they should be. Justine's sassy narrative is just the thing for stylish sunbathers on all the best beaches.

THE BOY-FREE ZONE. By Veronica Bennett. Walker Books pound;3.99.

An enjoyable story written in the third person, which is becoming a rarity in this kind of novel. This book describes the effect of a handsome young American on the zone of the title. It is, however, about more than young love. Annabel is a heroine who grows and develops, and her discovery of her own talent as a sculptor becomes even more important than the love interest.

JADE. By Millie Murray. Women's Press Livewire pound;4.99.

It's good to see a young black woman's face on the cover of a teenage book, and also to see the London borough of Newham as the setting for the story. All the details of Jade's life ring true, and Murray has an easy, engaging style. Many young girls willidentify with the story, andparents and grandparents play a refreshingly important role.

HARD CASH. By Kate Cann. PointScholastic pound;4.99.

Liberal use of four-letter words makes this one for the older teenager. Rich is at college, and poor. The world of advertising is a temptation, and Rich succumbs. This has a good effect on his bank balance and a bad effect on his college work, but all is not lost. A moral tale, with a promised sequel.

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