If you’re searching for a read packed with just the right balance of laughs and scares, look no further than ‘Witch Girl.’
Twelve-year-old Evangeline and her gran form a witchy ghost-busting duo (although Evangeline is still just an apprentice.) Together, they hunt down all manner of creatures that go bump in the night, magically ridding homes of monstrous infestations.
Evangeline has Haunt Huntress blood running through her veins and is desperate to prove she has enough heart to earn her own silver talisman and find a familiar before her thirteenth birthday. Although she’s tackled plenty of monsters by herself, things don’t always go to plan and a trail of destruction often follows in her wake.
On one job, Evangeline and Gran are called to a particularly creepy old mansion in New Orleans, a far cry from the peaceful swamp the pair live in usually. There, they will encounter a monsters which has been hunting her family for generations and discover an earth-shattering secret…
I quickly became entirely absorbed in Evangeline’s misty, murky world. The tiny details of ingredients and potions mingle with face-paced action. All the while, there’s a feeling of creeping menace lurking amongst the pages.
Evangeline is a character with a burning desire to prove herself as a Haunt Huntress – one of her biggest fears is that she’ll turn out to be just a middling with no specific magical powers and the end of a magical bloodline.
I won’t tell you anymore, suffice to say that ‘Witch Girl’ is the perfect dark and creepy read for fans of scares aged 9+ Not for the faint-hearted.
Speaking of people who aren’t scared easily, I’d to introduce Jan’s exclusive spooktastic post about just why it is that some people love to be scared:
WE LIKE TO BE SCARED
By Jan Eldredge
I love reading spooky stories for children. I always have. Growing up, some of my favorite books included, THE WICKED, WICKED LADIES IN THE HAUNTED HOUSE by Mary Chase, and those creepily atmospheric Scholastic book club paperbacks like, 13 GHOSTLY TALES and ARROW BOOK OF SPOOKY STORIES.
I’m not exactly sure why I adore scary tales so much. Maybe it’s because they offer an escape into worlds of magic, mystery, and adventure. Or maybe it’s because they’re filled with an atmosphere of danger and the unexpected. Whatever the reason, I never grow tired of them.
And not only do I love reading spooky stories for children, I also love writing them. I especially enjoy all the challenges involved in creating them.
With countless forms of entertainment vying for children’s attention these days, an author must hook young readers from the first page and hold them till the last, all while weaving in the elements so many kids enjoy: frights, mystery, adventure, and even humor. Using only our words, we writers must communicate a sense of foreboding, danger, and excitement without the benefit of heart-pounding music or ominous sound effects.
As if all of that wasn’t hard enough, there’s also the challenge of working with protagonists who are too young to drive, too young to possess credit cards or large amounts of cash, and who have no easy access to the usual weapons of self-defense. Armed with essentially nothing more than their courage and wits, our young heroes must defend themselves, their family, and their friends, and still defeat the villain, all without the help of an adult.
Maybe it’s that very feeling of empowerment that draws so many young readers to spooky tales. Some experts theorize children might also turn to the scary genre as a way to safely explore fear and experience a sense of danger, sort of like trying on a costume to see what it feels like to be someone else for a while. Being frightened by creepy tales can also provide kids with a sense of catharsis, the way you wake from a nightmare feeling relieved that it was only a bad dream, the kind of experience that makes you appreciate your safe and boring lifeand provides a reminder that your everyday problems aren’t quite so bad.
Or, maybe it’s something far simpler and basic. According to GOOSEBUMPS author, R.L. Stine, when he used to visit schools years ago, he’d always ask the students, “Why? Why do you like these books?” And every single time the kids would answer, “We like to be scared.”
WITCH GIRL by Jan Eldredge out now in paperback (£6.99, Scholastic)
Whatever the reasons children like to be scared, it’s certainly true that they do. I’m constantly being asked for scary titles which would be suitable for a middle grade audience – it’s a real challenge! ‘Witch Girl’ will certainly help fill this gap in the market.
Huge thanks to Jan for taking the time to write this post for us, and to Scholastic for sending me the title to review.
Library Girl (@BookSuperhero2)