I was lucky enough to request and be approved by the publishers to read an early copy of this on netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All views and opinions are my own.
The Haunting of Aveline Jones by Phil Hickes, illustrated by Keith Robinson
I wish this book had been around when I was growing up – younger me would have loved it (of course present me did too!) Atmospheric, creepy and chilling it was a perfect read for a grey, rainy day.
Aveline is staying with her Aunt Lillian for a few days in the coastal town of Malmouth. Out of season, this makes for a perfect backdrop to the story that follows – the stormy weather, the deserted streets, the unfamiliarity to city-born Aveline.
The writing was really imnersive and I could feel the wind whipping my hair and the spray from grey waves hitting my face as I hunkered down along the front with Aveline and local boy Harold, who she gradually – somewhat reluctantly at first! – befriends.
Shy, but hiding it with quick comments (and a long fringe), Harold’s clumsy attempts to make friends with Aveline were so well-written and touching to read; I thought he was a great character and I’d love to see more of him in the next book (which I found out about the other day and now can’t wait for!)
I also really liked the way the adults in the story were portrayed too – they aren’t stereotypically stupid, mean or absent, but real, supportive and caring. I especially Lillian and the effect Aveline’s visit had on her.
And when Aveline starts to suspect some ghostly goings on, they don’t dismiss her, but walk a careful line between believing her and suggesting alternative theories, helping her to get to the bottom of it.
And it’s these ghostly goings on that make the book so thrilling. Those and Keith Robinson’s wonderfully dark and atmospheric illustrations!
Aveline loves a good ghost story and ‘stuck’ at her aunt’s for a few days with limited internet and TV, she buys a book of ghost stories from Mr Lieberman’s (another great character!) bookshop down the road.
And this is where the trouble starts. A crossed out story at the end of the book, eerie visions in the sea, a mysterious previous owner gone missing, some truly disturbing scarecrow-like effigies and things that go bump in the night… the tension, mystery and spookiness gradually build and come together leading to an absolutely heart-pounding finale.
Plus, The Specials Madness and cherry red DMs.
I really enjoyed this, and I know if I’d read it as a child I’d have loved it then too. Creepy and atmospheric with a likeable and believable cast, I can’t wait to recommend this in work as the nights draw in and I’m so excited already for book two!