Friday, 21 March 2014

Shiverton Hall: Harry Potter meets Stephen King

Shiverton Hall by Emerald Fennell is a creepy horror story set in a boarding school in the country.  Arthur gets a letter out of the blue congratulating him on winning a scholarship to Shiverton  Hall.  He quickly makes friends with a small group of other teens who have one thing in common - they all had an imaginary friend when they were younger.

On Arthur's first night, he hears a warning from a mentally deranged former student that the friends are coming.  The school has a history of supernatural forces attacking nice and occasionally not so nice people leading to their unpleasant death.

Arthur has the usual school story problems, threats and intimidation by the bullies, success and failure in sporting and academic pursuits, a crush on the most beautiful girl in his class.  At the same time, sinister forces are gathering.  Arthurs friends start to see unpleasant versions their old imaginary friends, and they have to find out what it all means.

I can't say more about the plot without revealing spoilers, but the pace and creepiness do really pick up towards the end.  The first part of the book in contrast felt unpolished and inconsistent, with frequent POV shifts which felt disorienting and irritating.  The last third was much better crafted.

The writing wasn't consistent enough or the plot strong enough to earn the coveted 5 stars, but I did give it 4,

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