Icy Hand: Something Wickedly Weird, Vol. 2by Chris Mould (Illustrator)
THE ICY HAND VOLUME 2 :THE SECOND ADVENTURE IN STANLEY BUGGLE'S SAGA
Even more wicked and weird than the first! Stanley is looking forward to a relaxing winter. After all, nothing could have been weirder than the werewolf curse and plotting pirates he had to face the summer before! Or at least that's what Stanley thinks; but he has a lot to learn about/b>
THE ICY HAND VOLUME 2 :THE SECOND ADVENTURE IN STANLEY BUGGLE'S SAGA
Even more wicked and weird than the first! Stanley is looking forward to a relaxing winter. After all, nothing could have been weirder than the werewolf curse and plotting pirates he had to face the summer before! Or at least that's what Stanley thinks; but he has a lot to learn about Cramdon Rock, especially after accidentally bringing some dead pirates back to lifeones that make the previous pirates he faced look like cuddly puppy dogs and ones that are trudging across the arctic determined to fi nd a magical medallion in Stanley's house. The only person who can save him is his dead great-uncle Bartholomew, which is a little tricky considering he's…well, dead. Oh, and did we mention headless? With the help of a talking stuffed fish and a new friend named Daisy, Stanley sets out to fi nd his great-uncle's head, stop the pirates, and win over some new readers in this second funny and spooky installment of a thrilling new series.
Stanley Buggles returns to Crampton Rock, where another adventure awaits him. His discovery of a valuable amulet called the Ibis in The Wooden Mile (Roaring Brook, 2008) has awakened the Stormbringers, two pirate ghosts intent on reclaiming the artifact. Stanley receives help from the talking pike and the ghost of his Great-Uncle Bart as he tries to prevent the pirates from succeeding at all costs. Though even if he does, there is a risk that the Ibis's presence could create a greater threat, setting the scene for bigger adventures in future books. This offering has a more coherent and linear plot than the first title, moving through the action without the gaps and abrupt plot additions that plagued that book. The focus is still on action without much in the way of character development, but there is more substance. Fans of Philip Ardagh's work may find some similarities that will attract them. Mould's black-and-white illustrations are well done, particularly those of the characters.-Amanda Raklovits, Champaign Public Library, IL
Read an Excerpt
The Icy Hand
Something Wickedly Weird
By Chris Mould
Roaring Brook PressCopyright © 2007 Chris Mould
All rights reserved.
Return to the Rock
Stanley Buggles stood on the station platform of the gloomy industrial town where he lived. He was fully prepared for his winter visit to Crampton Rock, swamped by two suitcases and a large bag, all filled with itchy woolen garments knitted by his grandmother.
His first visit to the island had been filled with all manner of adventures and he wondered if his return would be as eventful. He was hoping for a more peaceful time, even if it was to be considerably colder.
His mother was there, with his stepfather at her side. She wore the most ridiculous fur coat. He hated it because when she hugged him, its hairs tickled his face. Within minutes Stanley was on the train, and waving goodbye to his weeping mother. He made a gesture with his hand that indicated he would write.
The train creaked and groaned and then finally hurtled forward into the darkness of an early winter's evening.
Stanley made himself comfortable and drifted into thoughts of the previous summer. It was six months since he'd inherited Candlestick Hall from his Great-uncle, Admiral Bartholomew Swift. Stanley had never met him, but he knew every detail of his unfortunate death. A dark encounter with a fearsome werewolf had left him headless.
Now the winter was about to come, thick and fast. Stanley had not slept peacefully since leaving Crampton Rock. Each night he dreamed of the Ibis, the great and ancient artifact that he had discovered hidden in the house.
It had rested quietly in the belly of the preserved pike that was mounted on the wall. And to protect its safety, Stanley had been forced to outwit the three deadly pirates that had darkened his door.
As the winter winds beat at the train window Stanley dreamed of the huge fire at Candlestick Hall and already, he felt cozily warm.
Meanwhile, the pike lay in his glass case, mumbling away to himself. He felt a warm hum from the precious gift that lay inside him, but he was not comfortable. Stanley had taken the Ibis out and held it in the warmth of his hands, and that could only lead to one thing. The chain of events that would put everything at risk had begun and nothing could put a stop to it. Of course the pike would try, but there was only so much he could do. He was confined to his see-through box on the wall.
The pike knew that, slowly but surely, the Stormbringers would begin their awakening. He had a daunting feeling that they were already on the move.CHAPTER 2
A Gathering Storm
At the very moment that Stanley had held the precious Ibis in his hand, a crack had appeared in an icy plane, three thousand miles away. A month later, the first wisp of foggy breath had filtered out into the freezing cold air.
Something, somewhere, had been stirred and was very slowly coming back to life. Soon it would begin its long journey south, where it sensed the whereabouts of a lost prize.
An icy, skeletal hand wriggled back to life and forced another crack in the cold glassy tomb that held it fast. Small movements rippled, then suddenly its icy container shattered into a million pieces.
The bony prisoner was freed. His body twitched. Life and limb poured over him in a grim display, covering his frame. A beastly beard grew rapidly from his chin, cascading down his chest, and a gallery of tattoos began to appear all over his yellowed skin.
The torn and ragged clothes he had died in stitched themselves together. A bullet belt looped over each shoulder and a shotgun was strapped to his back.
And when he stood up, someone was there waiting, someone lean and lank and dreadful to the eye. The man's attire of grand velvet and lace was damp and musty, and spores of moss grew from his surface.
His hardened, bony face never acknowledged his bearded partner. Oh, but they were very much together. And, without speaking they set off into the night, armed to the teeth, through the gathering blizzard.
Stanley sat back in the train and closed his eyes. He thought of Mrs. Carelli, the housekeeper of Candlestick Hall. She would be waiting for him, and he knew she would be baking fresh bread right now. He could almost smell it. He had missed her cooking through the autumn. Perhaps there would be a bubbling stew to warm him when he arrived.
Within a short while the gentle rocking of the carriage had sent him drifting off into sleep and he slumped peacefully against the window.
A great squeak and squeal grated through the air. The train was grinding to a halt. Stanley wiped a circle of condensation away from the window and peered through the glass. By now the night was bleak and black. He could just make out the crooked wooden sign that bore the name of Crampton Rock. A voice came through the carriage:
"This train terminates at Crampton Rock. Please take all your belongings with you."
Stanley stared around him in a dazed state. He was alone on the train. Nobody else would be getting off here, he thought.
Just as he'd hoped, Mrs. Carelli was waiting for him. She was so wrapped up against the bitter cold that he could see only her eyes and nose.
"You didn't have to come," he said. "I know the way now."
'I wouldn't have missed it for the world,' she laughed, and threw a warm hug around him.
Stanley had prepared himself for the treacherous route to the island: the harsh drop of the steps from the cliff top and the rickety footway fashioned from old boat timbers that they called the wooden mile.
They made the dangerous, slippery trek talking like old friends through their muffled mouths. The planks of the wooden mile were frosted and slick and Stanley steadied himself nervously at every step. When the tide was in, there was no way to the island — the water would wash right over the bridge's top. But for now the way was clear.
The wooden mile passed through a cave on its way to the island and, as Stanley rounded the corner, he could finally see the village. Candlestick Hall looked fantastic in the silvery light from the frost.
Silhouettes of boat masts fronted the waterfront, and the harbor lights lit the way. Lionel Grouse, the lighthouse keeper, was there to meet them. He called to them through the dark.
"Stanley, it is good to have you back. I would have come to the station but we have had trouble with a missing boat. All is fine now. Here, give me your things."
Stanley's long journey was over. As he finally entered Candlestick Hall, he could smell cooking. His prayers had been answered! Something simmered on the stove top, inviting him to lift the lid.
In the front room a fire roared up the chimney, wood glowed, and sparks crackled and spit, holding Stanley in a hypnotic stare. He grabbed his favorite chair and threw himself into it.
"I'll sleep here tonight," he announced. "It's so cozy."
"Whatever you wish, lad. It's fine by me. You're the master of the house and it's good to have you back, I must say. The old place has been quiet without you through the autumn," said Mrs. Carelli, her voice softening.
"Best batten down the hatches, though. Mr. Grouse says there's a severe snowstorm coming this way from the north. A real beast of a blizzard blowing in with the wind, they reckon, like nothing we've ever seen before."
The icy warriors marched on, never stopping or speaking, simply heading south. Nothing could stand in their way. They advanced over great mountains and moved swiftly through caves and forests, all with one aim: to reach their destination and take what they believed to be theirs.CHAPTER 3
Stanley woke in the night. He was alone downstairs. The roaring fire had eased itself into a gentle glow, still lighting the space around the hearth. He could hear something, he was sure: a voice, whispering his name.
It was coming from the hall, he thought. His heart beating faster, he left the warmth of the room for the darkness of the hallway, following the voice.
As he drew closer, he realized it was the pike in the glass case. Stanley had been so eager to come in from the cold and satisfy his hunger that he had neglected to pay the pike a visit.
He rubbed his tired eyes.
"Hello, Mr. Pike," he began. "I am sorry I have not greeted you. I take it you still have hold of my friend the Ibis."
Stanley received a sideways glance from the pike that suggested something was wrong. He was about to unscrew the case and check that the Ibis was still concealed inside, but the pike stopped him in his tracks.
"Do not hold her, Stanley," it began.
"You mean pardon. The word is pardon," the pike insisted.
"What? I mean, pardon?"
"Stanley, listen. You are in grave danger. The Stormbringers are drawing near. Their frozen prison lies in pieces and they are heading south even as we speak, never stopping or resting, only moving ever forward until they get here.
"I shall send my greatest enemy to help you."
But that was it. The pike was silent once more, and Stanley knew that no matter how he tried the pike would speak only when it felt moved to. It might be days or weeks before it spoke again.
Stanley went back to the front room and looked out through the window at the pitch black of night. He slumped back into his chair and wrapped himself in his blanket. He would try and get some sleep, but he knew it would be difficult now.
In the morning, Mrs. Carelli was on the warpath straightaway.
"Stanley! How come I has slept like a baby for six months in this big old place all alone since you left — and then as soon as you come back I can hear you wandering around in the night, up and down the hallway, mumbling away like some demented ghost! What's going on now? I thought we'd cleared up all our problems."
Stanley could only stare, speechless and groggy with tiredness.
"Sorry," he said. "Sleepwalking! I'll stay in my room tonight."
"Oh, and another thing," Mrs. Carelli continued. "The fire needs cleaning out, the garden wants some help, and when you've done all that we're gonna have to start the winter decorating."
She fired her orders at him like little arrows and he felt them pounding his head.
"Winter decorating? What's winter decorating?"
"You know, lad, winter jobs inside the house where it's warm and the paint can dry. There's the kitchen, the dining room, and then there's a couple of rooms upstairs. This house won't grow arms and paint itself, young Buggles. You has to look after your inheritance."
"Oh, yes, absolutely," Stanley agreed. He wandered upstairs, climbed into his bed still clothed, and slept until midday.
And so began Stanley's second visit to Crampton Rock. Mrs. Carelli was already all over him like a rash — and unless Stanley was very much mistaken, his friend the pike had greeted him with the news that he was in grave danger.CHAPTER 4
The Return of the Old Buccaneer
Stanley fell into bed that night, worn out by the day's exertions inside and outside the house. But he was not destined to sleep in peace.
The clear, yellow-white light of a longdead and well-respected scoundrel began to take shape by the side of Stanley's bed until it was the fully formed (but headless) figure of a man. Of course, Stanley was blissfully unaware of this. It was three in the morning and he was wrapped in his bedclothes, keeping himself warm and dreaming furiously.
The spirit began to grow impatient. He stamped his feet against the floorboards and paced up and down the room, feeling his way around, stumbling here and there. He knew the place well but it was still a task to find his way around with only his hands and feet.
Still nothing. The spirit felt for Stanley's sheets, and when he was sure he held them in his hand, he unrolled the tight chrysalis with a prompt jerk. Thrashing wildly, Stanley rolled onto the floor.
Finally, Stanley was awake ... but he felt sure that he must still be dreaming. He could feel the hard wood beneath him and something had very definitely and deliberately hurled him from his nest. But in front of him was a headless man in a naval uniform, with a long sword secured at his side.
Stanley rubbed his eyes. But no matter how he looked, the headless man was still there, and it was becoming clear that what he could see did not have to do with being half asleep. In fact, it had everything to do with being wide awake.
Stanley found himself shaking uncontrollably, and tried to calm himself with big deep breaths. His mother had always told him that there was an explanation for everything. Stanley had to conclude that the most reasonable explanation at the moment seemed to be that the house was haunted.
The figure was pointing to where it knew the door would be and it gestured to him tomove. Stanley felt he had no choice. When they reached the hallway, the headless man turned his finger downward.
He wanted Stanley to head down the staircase. Stanley took great care to avoid all the creaking steps, although his knocking knees seemed to be making the most noise. He didn't want Mrs. Carelli hearing the commotion. But his great care was spoiled by his midnight partner, who thudded down the steps like an elephant, tripping on the carpet and getting a leg stuck through the balustrade.
When they finally reached the ground floor, the spirit frogmarched Stanley through the house, using his hand along the walls to find his way and sending all the small paintings higgledy-piggledy.
They entered a room where there was a large portrait on the wall, and the headless man pointed to the name.
Then he stood beside it so that the head and face of the painting were on his shoulders.
"Oh my goodness. You're ... you're Admiral Swift. You're Great-uncle Bart!"
The spirit was unable to reply, of course, so he held out his hand to Stanley and shook it with a firm ghostly grip.
"Err ... pleased to meet you, Great-uncle Bart!" Stanley announced, feeling slightly uneasy at the thought that in the freezing cold at the dead of night he was shaking the hand of a man with no head. But ah well, who cares, he thought. He'd try anything once.
Admiral Swift kept hold of Stanley's hand and dragged him through to the front room and over to the window where the panes were so cold they were frosted on the inside. Stanley waited. His dead uncle lifted the forefinger of his right hand and drew four words, one inside each small square pane that ran along the bottom of the window.
"Ahh," said Stanley. "I see. Well of course I'd like to help but, well, the thing is, you see, that, well ... erm." And as he struggled to find the right words, his Great-uncle Bart faded slowly until there was nothing there at all.
Stanley knew that he had not seen the last of Admiral Swift.
He returned carefully to the warmth of his bed and studied his thoughts, tossing and turning until at last he found his way back into a deep sleep.
He dreamed he saw the Admiral's head everywhere. Under the bed, in the cupboard, in the fireplace, under his old hat which still rested on the hat stand. He even saw it mounted on the wall in the hallway next to the old moose. One minute the head had glowing eyes. The next minute it had only one eye. Then it was just a skull. Then it was laughing loudly with its jaws wide open and after that it was talking away to Mrs. Carelli on the kitchen table as she baked bread.
And what on earth would Mrs. Carelli do if she saw Admiral Swift wandering around the house?
All of this had given Stanley a very disturbed night, and his tired body would not allow him to wake before lunch.
But when he woke, something had clicked into place inside his head.
The pike had said it would send its greatest enemy to help Stanley.
Of course, Admiral Swift was the one who had fished the pike from the lake, ending its life, and having him preserved. So surely Admiral Swift must have been who the pike meant when it said it would send its greatest enemy.
Now it made sense. And in that case it meant that Great-uncle Bart was here to help Stanley. To help him with the coming of the Stormbringers, whoever they were.
When Stanley finally emerged from his room, it was almost dark again. He looked out through the hallway window. The air was still freezing cold and low clouds hung over the harbor waiting to announce an early dusk.
Stanley turned downstairs. He wanted to consult the pike, but was confronted by Mrs. Carelli straight away.
"Ahh, here he is, look," she said, smiling from one ear to the other. "Come on, Stanley. Come and say hello. You got a guest!"
Excerpted from The Icy Hand by Chris Mould. Copyright © 2007 Chris Mould. Excerpted by permission of Roaring Brook Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
CHRIS MOULD went to art school at the age of sixteen. During this time, he did various jobs, from delivering papers to washing up and cooking in a kitchen. He has won the Nottingham Children's Book Award and been commended for the Sheffield. He loves his work and likes to write and draw the kind of books that he would have liked to have on his shelf as a boy. He is married with two children and lives in Yorkshire, England.
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