Dead of Winter

Dead of Winter

4.0 7
by Chris Priestley
     
 

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After Michael's parents die, he is invited to stay with his guardian in a desolate country house. He begins to suspect something is not quite right on the day he arrives when he spots a mysterious woman out in the frozen mists. But little can prepare him for the solitude of the house itself. His guardian is rarely seen, and there's a malevolent force lurking in an

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Overview

After Michael's parents die, he is invited to stay with his guardian in a desolate country house. He begins to suspect something is not quite right on the day he arrives when he spots a mysterious woman out in the frozen mists. But little can prepare him for the solitude of the house itself. His guardian is rarely seen, and there's a malevolent force lurking in an old hallway mirror. As the chilling suspense builds, Michael realizes that the house and its grounds harbor many more secrets-both dead and alive.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Diane Colson
Young Michael's life becomes a living nightmare when he is taken to the home of his new guardian, Sir Stephen, who lives in an ancient home named Hawton Mere, isolated by miles of flat country. From the carriage window, he sees a ghostly woman with sad, pleading eyes. Michael demands that they stop the carriage and rescue this woman, but she has vanished into the dark countryside. Michael is flooded with an awareness that something is very wrong at Hawton Mere. He soon discovers that Sir Stephen has a "nervous condition," which renders his guardian virtually insane. Not only is Michael desperately lonely, most frightening are loud, banging sounds and repeated visions of the ghostly woman that are experienced only by Michael . . . and Sir Stephen. Reading this book is much like watching a formulaic horror movie. Michael is tormented by a string of terrors that are dismissed by the few adults around him. And yet conversations stop when he enters a room. He is repeatedly assured of a "good talk" about the mysterious goings-on, but it never comes. A jaded reader might find it tediously predictable, but first-time horror readers should enjoy the steady stream of scares. The Victorian setting, decked with jolly servants, evil-ish nobility, and a creepy haunted mansion, provides an accessible introduction to the genre. The book is highly suitable for middle school readers, although older teens may find it an eye-roller. Reviewer: Diane Colson
Children's Literature - Paula McMillen
The Prologue lets us know this is going to be a scary tale because the writer is terrified even to write it down. As the story opens, young Michael Vyner is staring into the grave of his widowed mother, bereft and totally uncertain about what his future holds. As often happens in real life, the lawyers step in to manage it all and Michael is given unto the care of a guardian he has never met, Sir Stephen Clarendon—the man his father saved at the cost of his own life. The very next morning, Michael is taken away to spend Christmas at the Clarendon family home, Hawton Mere, a forbidding stone manse surrounded by a moat and isolated in the flat desolate fenlands. But before he even arrives, mysterious events overtake Michael. A woman in white, apparently soaking wet, approaches the carriage beseeching their help; yet when they stop, no one is to be seen. Once they reach the house, Michael immediately feels, sees, and hears something evil stalking him; the house and his guardian are hiding dark secrets. Can Michael escape the immediate dangers? Can he ever escape? This is a rousing good ghost story set in Victorian England that will appeal to those who like to get a chill and look over their shoulders into dark corners. No explicit language, violence or gore so this is suitable for younger teens as well. Reviewer: Paula McMillen, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—In his first novel-length, gothic horror tale, Priestley pays homage to Poe's "Fall of the House of Usher" and in the process crafts a taut thriller with a foreboding setting and appropriately creepy atmosphere. Like the classic, this story features an isolated, imposing manor house that produces an inexplicable sense of dread in the narrator. Hawton Mere, like Poe's titular mansion, is inhabited by a brother afflicted by a debilitating psychological condition and a sister. But unlike Poe's unnamed narrator, Michael Vyner is not a willing visitor. Recently orphaned, he discovers that he is now the ward of Sir Stephen, the lord of Hawton Mere. Michael's father gave his life saving Sir Stephen in battle in Afghanistan and he is repaying that debt by caring for the boy. Upon arrival, Michael is nearly overwhelmed by a sense of impending doom. He is also afflicted by apparitions and strange noises. He is soon thrust into the mystery of the death of Sir Stephen's late wife and the origins of the poltergeistlike spirit that terrorizes him and his guardian. Though the story begins like Rick Yancey's Monstrumologist (S & S, 2009), with a narrator writing years after the fact, Priestley stays truer to the traditional genre, focusing on atmospherics and psychology rather than blood and gore. Students who want a break from the graphic violence of modern horror stories will enjoy this short volume.—Anthony C. Doyle, Livingston High School, CA

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781408800041
Publisher:
Bloomsbury UK
Publication date:
10/28/2011
Lexile:
930L (what's this?)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Chris Priestley is the author of the spine-tingling Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror, Tales of Terror from the Black Ship and Mister Creecher. Chris is also an illustrator, painter, and cartoonist.

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