Monday, December 14, 2015

Charlie and the Grandmothers by Katy Towell

Charlie is afraid of everything.  Ever since the terrifying day when his father was killed in a mill accident, Charlie can't help fearing the worst.  Even when there seems to be nothing to fear, Charlie can't help concocting worst-case scenarios in his ever-wakeful, overactive imagination.  Most of the danger lives inside Charlie's head, but even his sister Georgie and their mother recognize the oddity of the numerous children leaving their neighborhood to visit their grandmothers and seemingly never returning. 

One night, darkness sweeps over their house and Charlie, still awake in the night, can hear a strange voice whispering to his mother.  Days later, the impossible is happening.  Charlie and Georgie's mother has taken ill and the two children are being sent away to their grandmother's house while she recovers, which wouldn't be so strange...if they actually had any living grandparents.  Instead of a charming getaway to the safety of their grandmother's house, Charlie and Georgie are plunged into the stuff of nightmares.  These grandmothers are distinctly evil, and only terrified Charlie is equipped to save them.

Katy Towell has crafted a deliciously and imaginatively creepy horror story for kids that worked for this adult reader, too.  Sure, the premise is unlikely.  Charlie's unnatural terror and weird attachment is a little exaggerated, but here, it works. 

While Charlie and the Grandmothers is undeniably unique, I couldn't help being reminded of books like Neil Gaiman's Coraline with a little James and the Giant Peach thrown in.  I love stories like this, fast-paced and full of adventure, where a kid left to their own devices in a world that should be heart-stoppingly petrifying finds his courage and steps up to become the hero of his own story.

(Review copy received at no cost in exchange for review consideration.)

1 comment:

  1. That does sound a little creepy - I bet a lot of kids these days can relate to Charlie.