Wednesday 9 September 2015

The Crowham Martyrs by Jane McLoughlin

A silver wisp of ghost hovers on the ceiling and a raspy voice rattles the timbers of my narrow staircase.
‘Maddy Deeprose! You’re ten minutes late.’
I run a brush through my tangled hair and look in the mirror. Pale skin, round face – shouldn’t I have cheekbones by now? I’m nearly thirteen. I rummage through my dresser drawer, dig out the make-up Mum sent fromn the States. Maybe lipstick would help.Or some blusher. I lean into the mirror for a closer look. Thick black eyeliner?’
‘Seriously, Maddy, this is beyond a joke.’

Published by Catnip books in 2015
316 pages in paperback
Cover design and illustration by Pip Johnson

Summary from Mulcahy Associates Agents’ website
When there's nowhere left to run, you'll need somewhere to hide...
Ghosts don't scare Maddy Deeprose. She's seen them all her life.
And so when her mum sends her to creepy old boarding school Crowham Martyrs, Maddy isn't worried.
But when her friends start disappearing, Maddy knows it's time to be scared.
Something is lurking at Crowham Martyrs. Something evil. Is the place that is supposed to keep Maddy safe about to become the hunting ground?

I’ll be honest – I am a bit biased. I went to the book launch for this at the wonderful Book Nook in Hove (well worth a visit for readers of all ages) and had a great time with the charming and talented Jane. She has a distinctive personality – and so does our heroine in Crowham Martyrs.
I think it’s fair to say that you have to like Maddy Deeprose as a central character to enjoy this book – her attitude and sense of humour are right there in the middle of everything. If you take a shine to her then this makes the unnerving mystery and downright horror at various points in the story all the more intense.
Whilst it is contemporary, and 12 year old Maddy is definitely a modern girl, it has all the features you’d want from a creepy classic. The rather striking cover gives exactly the right feel. The unsettling intense yellow, the distorted ancient and shadowy house and one lone girl against it all.
Although it’s quite a long book, there’s lots of conversation and Maddy’s own thoughts as well as action so it doesn’t seem overstretched. The writing style is accessible for any reasonably confident reader – but it might be too frightening for young or sensitive children. 
In short, a modern gothic story with a fine mix of relationships, scares and twists.

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