Review Blog

Jul 15 2014

Shiverton Hall : the creeper by Emerald Fennel

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Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781408827796.
The creepy and mysterious Shiverton Hall is a school with a reputation for being involved in horrific events over hundreds of years. The school and the surrounds of the aptly named village of Grimstone provide the setting for suspense and horror stories, sometimes involving the kidnapping and disappearance of children which took place at different times over a long history. Related by various characters, the grisly and frightening tales at first seem disconnected but the reader soon appreciates that they are significant in the development of the plot involving central character Arthur Bannister and some close school friends. Events from an earlier novel Shiverton Hall in the series involving Arthur are referred to on several occasions by the author, yet no recapping or summary is provided for those unfamiliar with the preceding book. Readers may be dissatisfied and even confused because those events would seem to have been terrifying with a shocking outcome. This is pivotal to Arthur's thoughts and behaviours in this novel when he leaves his family to resume boarding and study at Shiverton, despite being warned about doing so by a hideously scarred, burned man.
The start of the school term sees the assigning of community service roles for students, which lead to amusing adventures and the arrival of the flamboyant Inigo Cornwall, a new teacher who is also a famed celebrity in the art world. His appalling classroom technique and complete disinterest in education prompts the reader to ponder his role in the school community. This novel comprises several mysteries which of course are revealed in the conclusion and the various frightening tales are drawn together. Some descriptions from the horror stories and the concept of child abduction may be confronting for younger primary students.
Rob Welsh

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