Book review: The Spook’s Blood and other titles from Random House Children’s Books

Hold onto your hats, Joseph Delaney’s Lancashire Spook is back and he’s sharing the limelight with a feisty schoolgirl and a multi-tasking mum.

By Pam Norfolk
Friday, 22nd February 2013, 9:00 am

Random House Children’s Books have some exciting new books out to mark a new term and the imminent approach of Mother’s Day.

Here are three of the best:

The Spook’s Blood by Joseph Delaney

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The sweeping countryside and rich folklore of Lancashire’s Ribble Valley has never been so memorably and darkly portrayed than in retired Preston teacher Joseph Delaney’s thrilling Spook books.

It’s hard to believe but The Spook’s Blood is the tenth instalment of his Wardstone Chronicles children’s series which has become a runaway success with its scary stories inspired by real Lancashire places and legends.

The notoriously spine-chilling, blood-curdling tales feature master magician John Gregory and his apprentice Tom Ward who battle supernatural forces in a landscape based on rural Lancashire. His cast of grisly witches, grave-wreckers, hall-knockers, rippers and all kinds of other nasty creatures are instantly recognisable to local children who have fun guessing the real locations.

In the latest dark and dangerous adventure, time is running out for Tom Ward. His final battle against the Fiend is drawing near and the Spook’s apprentice has never felt more alone in his task. The Fiend is set to send the greatest of his servants against him – Siscoi, a Vampire God more ferocious than anything he has yet faced.

Isolated and afraid, Tom must risk his life to prevent the evil beast from entering this world, even as he learns that the final destruction of the Fiend may involve a sacrifice more terrible than he can imagine.

With the Spook’s powers on the wane and Tom’s in the ascendancy, could Delaney’s epic series be nearing its final showdown?

As always, Delaney captures the terror of witch country with his haunting plotlines and pulsating prose. The Dark just got even darker...

Suitable for children aged eleven and over.

(Red Fox, paperback, £6.99)

Alice-Miranda Takes the Lead by Jacqueline Harvey

Welcome to Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale boarding school and its star pupil, the irrepressible, irreverent and ‘top-hole’ Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones whose adventures make Malory Towers seem a million light years away.

Alice-Miranda is the lively, lovable creation of Jacqueline Harvey who has spent her working life teaching in girls’ boarding schools and met many young girls in the mould of the marvellous Alice-Miranda.

In this sparkling new series of books, we grow to love Alice-Miranda, the perfect best friend for girls aged seven and over who want a heroine who is feisty, funny and has the happy knack of getting caught up in all sorts of dramas and mysteries.

Here we find her thrilled to be back at school where the girls are preparing a play with the neighbouring boys’ school. But it’s not all glitter and stage lights because there are rumours of a witch in the woods.

Meanwhile, her friends Jacinta and Millie are clashing with a rude new student, Sloane Sykes, and her pushy mother, September, who is plotting to steal the fortune she has always dreamed of. It’s up to Alice-Miranda to set things right!

The Alice-Miranda series looks set to go to the top of the class with its appealing and time-honoured mix of fun, mystery and boarding school antics.

(Red Fox, paperback, £5.99)

My Mum by Anthony Browne

As Mother’s Day draws near, Anthony Browne’s enchanting picture book is just the job for mums and their little ones to share together. With a free matching Mother’s Day card inside, this is the ideal gift for mums everywhere. The quirky, funny story, featuring a mum who’s a fantastic cook, sings like an angel and can do everything from painting (her face!) and carrying bags of shopping to roaring like a lion, growing plants and making people happy, captures the essence of being a mother. The lovely, lively illustrations are witty, warm and full of home wisdom and will appeal to any child aged over two. A heartwarming and heartfelt tribute to motherhood by a brilliant author and illustrator.

(Doubleday, hardback, £5.99)