Thank you to Usborn Publishing and Netgalley for the review copy in exchange for an honest review. This does not change my opinion in anyway.
Book: The Haunting of Aveline Jones by Phil Hickes
Release Date: September 17th 2020
Tags: Middle Grade | Paranormal | Horror | Ghosts | Family | Fall | Halloween
Aveline Jones loves reading ghost stories, so a dreary half-term becomes much more exciting when she discovers a spooky old book. Not only are the stories spine-tingling, but it once belonged to Primrose Penberthy, who vanished mysteriously, never to be seen again. Intrigued, Aveline decides to investigate Primrose’s disappearance.
Now someone… or something, is stirring. And it is looking for Aveline.
I am always intrigued by middle grade spooky books because it is a fine line to walk to make it spooky without stepping outside of the lines of the target group. I think The Haunting of Aveline Jones does that well. At the end of the day, many young kids are interested in spooky elements and ghosts and this book will appeal to many, just as Aveline will.
Aveline is staying with her distant aunt for half-term as her mother goes to take care of her grandmother. Her aunt lives in an old house in a small town near the sea. It is not how she imagined spending her half-term, but at least she’ll be able to read some more ghost stories. In a second hand book store she finds an old volume of ghost stories from the area. But the last story is crossed out. From there Aveline falls into a mystery that reaches back to an old case of a missing girl, Primrose, presumed death.
I think what I liked a lot about this book is the mood that is there throughout the book. It feels grey and bleak in the town, with odd customs. I certainly felt the mood that is conveyed on the UK cover. There is something very unsettling about it all. The added illustrations by Keith Robinson that are spread throughout the book help set the mood.
But another thing I liked is how that the adults were present for most of it. There is the show owner of the second hand bookstore and his cousin (of the same age as Aveline). But also surprisingly her aunt who builds a relationship with Aveline throughout everything that is happening. Never did she make Aveline feel silly for feeling as something paranormal was going on around them. She believed her, because she knew that Aveline would never make it up.
So often there are middle grades where adults completely discard what the kids tell them. And while that does happen most of the time in real life, I love seeing it play out different because I think it is also a teaching moment for the adults that read middle grade. To be open to what our kids have to say. We don’t have to squash them because we think it is silly.
All in all I think this is a fun and spooky middle grade read that is perfect for the coming Halloween season.