For those unfamiliar with Barrington Stoke books, they are a fabulous big-hearted publisher of quality, dyslexic-friendly novels for children and young adults. They are, like this one, Grave Matter, (Juno Dawson, illos by Alex T Smith) usually easy to read and have a big concept to get children who struggle to read, interested in doing so.
But Grave Matter is more than just a usual Barrington Stoke book – it’s absolutely brilliant!
Gripping, spooky, unsettling and with a really unexpected story of voodoo, obsession, love and zombie girlfriends, it has literally everything you could want from a dark thriller.
As this book does have some really big, freaky moments it’s aimed at the older teenager or well-developed younger reader. It’s about grieving Sam, who lost his wonderful girlfriend Eliza in a car crash. He is destitute without her, and becomes obsessed with bringing her back to life when he meets some creepy people who tell him they can help him get Eliza back.
The villain here, called The Milk Man, is one scary dude! In fact, I’d go so far as to say, I haven’t felt quite so unsettled by a children’s book since I read Neil Gaiman’s Coraline – so be warned. However, the story itself is written with a light touch, the words fly by and really draw you in. I read this in just two sittings it was sooooo good!
And, as well as the story, there are some genius, freaky illustrations accompanying the text. But I wouldn’t look at some of them before you go to sleep at night.