Today I have a deliciously creepy title from Carnegie-nominated author, Pádraig Kenny for readers aged ten and up.
Mirabelle has always known that she’s different. A monster. But she has always felt safe and loved behind the magical enchantments shielding her and the rest of ‘the Family’ from the human world.
The House of Rookhaven is a special place which houses magical spheres – through ways into this world from what her people call ‘The Ether.’ When the magical glamour protecting this home becomes torn, two orphans stumble upon Rookhaven and its inhabitants. But the tear has also let a fearful danger in – evil is stalking Mirabelle and her family.
This was a thoroughly engrossing read which gripped me from the off. There was just the right amount of lurking menace in the form of deceptively-named Piglet locked in the darkest depths of the house. And the twins – they were truly terrifying despite their outwardly often very sweet appearance.
The story raised some very interesting questions about what truly makes a monster. Are monsters born or are monsters made? Perhaps there’s a little bit of monster lurking in all of us? This story raises the importance of empathy for others and the dividing power of a sense of ‘difference’ or ‘otherness.’ Big ideas for children to explore.
Just the right mix of gothic horror motifs and magic to keep readers enthralled and guessing to the very end. 10+
I am thrilled to have a piece from Pádraig about where he gets inspiration for his writing from:
People always ask me where I get my ideas from, and I always answer with “I don’t know.” I don’t believe in inspiration. I know people think about it as some kind of bolt of lightning, but I think if there is such a thing then inspiration is something that sneaks up on you.
I spend most of my time daydreaming, and I’ve been daydreaming since I was a child. Usually I’ll daydream while doing something boring like washing the dishes and that’s when inspiration sneaks up on me. I might see an image of something or hear a line of dialogue. That’s another thing. I hear voices. Voices of characters in my head. Random people just jabbering away at each other sometimes, and if I listen closely they might keep speaking and become characters.
Sometimes they don’t speak at all. Sometimes I’ll just see an image. The Monsters of Rookhaven arrived in such a way. I had an image of two young girls in a forest at night. They were holding hands and facing the darkness. I knew they were friends and that they were protecting each other, but from what?
My mind wandered a little more, and I saw a house in the heart of the forest, and it was old and huge, and instantly I knew it was filled with monsters.
So I knew I had to get the girls and the house into a story in some way, and that was when inspiration sneaked up on me again and I realised that one of the girl’s lived in the house, and the other was an outsider. And after that I couldn’t see what came next, I just couldn’t….
And then! Oh joy of joys, I saw, no, I didn’t see – I realised there was a monster in the depths of the house and the others monsters were frightened of it. Maybe you call it inspiration, I don’t know, but in that moment everything came together and all the parts of the story fell into place.
Thank you, Pádraig for sharing those insights into how a germ of an idea or an image can slowly develop into a fully- formed idea.
*Many thanks to Macmillan Children’s Books for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour*