With the grown-up content of so many horror movies these days, scary films you can watch with your entire family on Halloween are precious.
This list will safely entertain the whole brood on any dark and stormy night! No chainsaws, no flesh-eating zombies… but we can’t promise no nightmares!
So bring out the Butterworth’s and dim the lights!


25. Little Monsters
(1989) PG

If Howie Mandel was the monster under my bed, I would run for my life! He’s a far cry from Tom Arnold’s Huggly.
Fred Savage (from The Wonder Years) leads a frantic chase to return to the human world (from under the bed) before sunrise… or he’ll become a monster himself!


24. The Little Vampire
(2000) PG

Despite the silly cuteness of the actors in the advertising, this is actually a gripping thriller. When a boy befriends a vampire child, he must then fight the descendant of Van Helsing in order to protect him.


23. The Corpse Bride
(2005) PG

Another Tim Burton Halloween special!
Not to be confused for a follow-up to The Nightmare Before Christmas, this tells the story of a poor groom who must marry the wrong girl. Be careful whose finger you put a wedding ring on.


22. Hotel Transylvania
(2012) PG

An animated comedy about a vacation spot in rural Transylvania, catering to monsters.
Dracula’s daughter longs for the real world, and ends up falling in love… with a human. (The most savage of all the members of The Monster Club!)


21. Arachnophobia
(1990) PG-13

John Goodman (Norm from Cheers) takes on the job of spider exterminator.
…because there are millions of them…


20. 20. The Addams Family
(1991) PG-13

A modern take on the Addams Family TV series.
Though this spawned two sequels, the first is the best. It should be followed up by watching some of the original episodes!


19. Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman
(1943) G

The ruins of Castle Frankenstein are explored and the Monster is discovered encased in a tomb of ice!
A black and white monster classic! This story takes place before the events of House of Dracula, and establishes an enmity between the Monster and Larry Talbot.


18. The Haunted Mansion
(2003) PG

A spin-off from the ride at Disney World, Eddie Murphy explores an old plantation house. Can he break the curse before the clock strikes thirteen?


17. Twilight Zone: The Movie
(1983) PG

Do you want to see something really scary…?

Four vignettes remaking some of the classic episodes.
“Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit outta my hat!”
They are better enjoyed if you are familiar with the original episodes, so be sure to watch them, too!


16. The Monster Squad
(1987) PG-13

“The wolfman’s got nards!

Cheesy, but fun! If you like this one, The Goonies will be a hit, too!


15. Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant
(2009) PG-13

There is a war brewing within the vampire world just as poor Darren gets caught up in the life of the undead. His best friend becomes a victim of the war as well.
An adaptation of Darren Shan’s novels about a circus of freaks and monsters. If you like this, go read the books! It only gets better from here!


14. House of Dracula
(1949) G

Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, and Dracula all in the same movie! One of Universal’s most climactic thrillers brings The Monster under the control of the Lord of the Vampires! Can Lawrence Talbot stop his nefarious scheme?


13. Frankenweenie
(2012) PG

A child loses his dog. Wouldn’t you do everything you could to bring back your beloved pet? Tim Burton. ‘Nuff said?


12. Monster House
(2006) PG

A thriller from the creators of Coraline. You’ll be hanging on the edge of your seat at the ending, when the house itself comes to life!
Another intelligent mystery about a crotchety old curmudgeon who chases kids off his front lawn, and also an unforgettable love story.


11. Coraline
(2009) PG

An adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s early foray into children’s fantasy books.
An amazing fantasy. The “other mother” will leave even the adults looking under their beds at night.


10. The Witches
(1990) PG

A witch’s convention gets hungry for the taste of children in this adaptation of Roald Dahl’s imaginitive book.


9. 13 Ghosts
(1960) PG

Treasure hunting in a house that’s really haunted! This old black & white movie is a lot like a visit to Mayberry, with a dash of murder!  
(Not to be confused with the 2001 remake that is definitely NOT for kids!)
A William Castle classic originally filmed in 3-D Illusion-O vision!


8. Young Frankenstein
(1974) PG

Bette Midler and Gene Wilder’s parody of Frankenstein.
Imagine the father from Everybody Loves Raymond dancing to Astaire’s Puttin’on the Ritz, dressed as Frankenstein’s Monster!


7. Paranorman
(2012) PG

Norman can see dead people, so it falls to him to save the town when its witch-burning past comes back to haunt them!
Paranorman is one of the most intelligent of the computer-animated horror films I’ve seen.


6. Gremlins
(1984) PG

If an antique dealer cryptically warns you not to feed the Magwai after midnight, LISTEN to him!


5. Beetlejuice
(1988) PG

Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Another Tim Burton classic!
A mischievous spirit indoctrinates a newly deceased couple into the afterlife. The soundtrack even includes Harry Bellafonte!


4. Something Wicked This Way Comes
(1983) PG

An excellent adaptation of the book by Ray Bradbury, this is a study of the innermost desires of an all American town and a boy’s desire to connect with his father.


3. Hocus Pocus
(1993) PG

Three witches run Amok! Bette Midler and her crew raise the dead in this hilarious Halloween romp!


2. The Nightmare Before Christmas
(1993) PG

Tim Burton’s all-time classic that explores Christmas through the lens of Halloween!


1. Ghostbusters
(1984) PG

The movie that brings you unforgettable quotes like these:

“Ray, when someone asks you if you’re a god, you say ‘YES!'”


“Don’t cross the streams.”
“It would be bad.”
“I’m fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean, ‘bad?'”
“Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.”
“Right. That’s bad. Okay. Important safety tip. Thanks.”


Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!
Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes…
The dead rising from the grave!
Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!

–The funniest horror film you’ll ever find.


What are your family’s favorite spooky flicks for a dark and stormy night? Stay tuned for our William Castle special!


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Gravediggers: Entombed

Posted September 10, 2014 By JS Daly


Gravediggers: Entombed

by Christopher Krovatin
HarperCollins, 2014
320 Pages
Mid-Grade (Ages 9-12)

I wondered where Krovatin would take his team of young zombie hunters next, and true to form, he kicks it up a notch by landing the three team-mates in the City of the Dead. The story starts with a bang– O’Dea, their Warden, has been kidnapped by Dario Savini, an enemy who had escaped from the Isla Hambrienta!
The Council of Wardens meets with the Gravediggers, and are complete jerks who claim that the Wardens have never truly needed the services of the Gravediggers, and are so rude they anger Kendra (who “has the blood” of a Warden, so it seems,) so intensely that she accesses her special powers and trashes the conference room. (The three partners began to develop new abilities in Terror Cove.) The Council are clearly a hostile force and will offer no help in retrieving O’Dea, who is expected to take her own life rather than allow a containment breach.
The Gravediggers are left with nowhere to turn except their old “friend,” Danny Melee. Together they solve the mystery of where O’Dea has been taken, but it’s not good news. Kudus is in Malaysia, and is the last remnant of a lost civilization, a place known in whispered legends as The City of the Dead, and for good reason.
Before they leave, it becomes evident that Ian is beginning to have feelings for Kendra. To top it all off, Josephina, O’Dea’s protegee, is having visions, ominous dreams about PJ in a cave posing a great danger for him, and she predicts that something bad will happen soon. But of course, there wouldn’t be a story if we all just heeded the warnings of the local gas station attendant not to go up to the haunted mansion on the hill…
Danny flies the Gravediggers to Borneo and equips the venture, (though, sadly, Ian finds he has to run away from home in order to get there.) Once there, the trio goes spelunking and soon unearth the gateway to Kudus.
Kendra is now showing signs of having much stronger powers; even more than those of the other Gravediggers. She can see the magic of sigils carved in the walls glowing as though she were a warden, and receives visions of the lives of the dead. Her visions allow us to learn the history of the ancient fallen city that was once invaded by an evil tribe, and then then horribly cursed. It became so overrun with the undead that the entire city was collapsed by the wardens of that time to lie forgotten below the earth.
At Kudus they encounter a new type of zombie– animated corpses that have dwelled underground for hundreds of years and have evolved adaptations to the darkness! They can smell human blood (unless you smear yourself with gore) and they can crawl on the ceiling, an entire army of pale zombies with fungus growing out of their spines on all sides! Remember that the fungus is what makes the zombie in Krovatin’s series– the body exists to spread the spore, and a head shot wont kill them like in the movies, these hunters must rip out or crush a zombie’s spine in order to take it out.
What they find in the sewers of the lost city is gross, spine-crushing, zombie cannibalism!

The whole blob of merged human corpses rises up around us like a garden of death, like a swelling lasagna of dead people sloshing up around us in festering waves. The basic laws of zombie nature have gone horribly wrong here, the conjoined dead deformed beyond reason– there are zombies with three arms, two torsos, four people’s worth of intestines spilling out of them. They all come pouring from the horrible pool of reanimated flesh around our feet.

Soon they find Dario’s father, a zombie, and watch Dario kill him. How cold; Dario is a ruthless Gravedigger bent on loosing the zombie population upon the world in order to teach everyone what life shared with zombies was once like, to make people appreciate the gift that is the Gravediggers. Besides unleashing the zombies from Kudus, one of his aims is also to destroy all Wardens. Gravediggers and Wardens, both sides seem to feel like there is no real need for the other.

They’ve never known what to do with us, because we have the power. Wardens need to be trained. Their blood has the potential for magic, but they need to be… whittled out of a person. Gravediggers are like diamonds… We have an inherent power behind us, an ability.

A skilled soldier, Dario offers at one point to help train the young gravediggers, but that is before they cross him. Dario’s father’s corpse had been holding a carven horn, what Kendra recognizes as the city’s seal. The kids nab it and run from Dario, but he soon catches up and gives PJ and Ian a beat down. Then he carries Kendra away. Eventually, the boys find O’Dea, who is upset that they came down into the tunnels and risked turning the tides of the magical containment. They were supposed to let her kill herself in order to protect the world. She had been kidnapped because in order to overcome the seal, Dario needs a Warden’s powers. Without O’Dea there should be no problem. Except he does have a Warden now. Kendra.
The team terrifyingly discovers the very source of the zombie contagion in Kudus and confronts it head on! Krovatin outdoes himself creating a horror at the center of it all that can viably threaten humanity itself, the raging spores of undead infection that may sweep the face of the planet. Not only will the Gravediggers have to defeat Dario the professional mercenary, but the fungal death itself… and then make it back to the surface alive to face the Council of Wardens.
Even better than the first two books in this series, the cover art on this edition is sweet! It promises darkness, terror, and zombie hordes, and Krovatin’s story delivers! There is no way to fully describe in words the alien flavor of ancient Southeast Asian architecture, so for a taste of what Kudus may have looked like, here are pictures of similar lost cities nearby. Wait a minute… could this sunken zombie-holocaust site be real?

Ancient Architecture:
Angkor Wat, Borobudur, Bagan, and Sukhothai

The Sarawak Chamber

Just as the feelings between Ian and Kendra are beginning to simmer and the tensions between the Gravediggers and Wardens are coming to a head, the Gravediggers Trilogy comes to an end! I am holding out hope that the story will continue in a new format. Necessarily a new format, because the ending of this adventure leaves the makeup of the Gravediggers fundamentally altered, and the characters forever changed.

Related Posts:

INTERVIEW with Christopher Krovatin
Gravediggers: Entombed
Gravediggers: Terror Cove
Gravediggers: Mountain of Bones
Heavy Metal and You



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Interview: Christopher Krovatin

Posted September 3, 2014 By JS Daly

Awake at Midnight welcomes Christopher Krovatin, author of the Gravediggers series, Venomous, and Heavy Metal & You.

Christopher Krovatin


Awake at Midnight:
First, can you trace the journey that would inspire a singer for a New York City-based death metal band to write children’s books?

Chis Krovatin:
Well, the band came after I’d released my first book,
Heavy Metal & You, but I’ve always been a diehard metalhead. Reading–in general, but horror especially–is something I’ve loved from an early age, because it took me to new places and let me live out my fantasies. The only thing I loved more was telling stories, because that lets me direct these daydreams and emotions, lets me act them out in a world where I’m in control and my imagination is the limit. Metal does that in many ways too– beneath the satanism and the rock star mentality, there’s an energy to metal, a driving emotional strength that lets you tap in to parts of your heart often unexplored. So it’s not as much of a strange union for me as many might think. I wasn’t some stone-faced death metal dude who one day decided to write for kids, I was a goofy young-at-heart headbanger who maintained a vibrant inner life and decent memory of the things that made him feel amazing when he was young.

Your description of Indonesia in Entombed is very rich. What goes into choosing the exotic locations for the zombie outbreaks the Gravediggers encounter?

Terrain is important– I want Ian, Kendra, and PJ to have different challenges every time, from cliffs to quicksand. But culture is also vital when you’re dealing with magic. In Entombed I wanted the Gravediggers to interact with an ancient civilization that was rich and strange. So I sat down and did research into old-world cultures with interesting, creepy histories, and came upon this one. My thought process went a little like this: “Let’s see, we’ve had Inuit magic, we’ve had islander magic… where else? Where did headhunters come from? Borneo? I know nothing about Borneo. Let’s get reading.” It would’ve been easy to take the kids to Haiti, birthplace of voodoo and the zombie myth, but I’ve read a million books about zombies in Haiti, both in my research and as a casual reader. Besides, my vision of the living dead uses all magical traditions as reference points. There are Norse Wardens, Tibetan Wardens, Australian aboriginal Wardens. So I figured I’d take these Gravediggers to a place they’d never dreamed of to fight zombies they couldn’t possibly imagine.

Horror films have obviously had a big influence on your work; were there specific movies that influenced your latest novel and the series in general?

I don’t want to give too much away with references, but one that’s worth mentioning is Day Of The Dead, the last of Romero’s original zombie trilogy. It’s always been my favorite of the three, because I love the whole cave-dwelling aspect of it (not to mention Tom Savini’s absolutely mindblowing zombie make-up and effects). Caves scare the Hell out of me– they have their own strange and somewhat unknowable ecosystem. There’s no light, no heat, very little sound. It’s like being in a giant coffin, except you’re not alone. Romero really nailed that with Day Of The Dead. His influence looms over the whole series, obviously, but in this one I wanted to capture that claustrophobic terror of the cave.

What horror books do you remember from your childhood– what were your favorites, and what scenes stuck with you?

Hrm. Well, my favorite book has for a long time been The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury, and Jack Prelutsky’s two books of children’s horror poetry, Nightmares and The Headless Horseman Rides Tonight, remain two favorites for me. The novel that really got me into horror as a kid was Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. That book scared the bejeebus out of me, but I loved it. There’s one scene in particular– it ends with “It became unspeakable” –that I think truly instilled in me the power of fear. But for Entombed, two of the people I thank in the acknowledgments are people I read a lot as a child– H.P. Lovecraft and Mike Mignola. Obviously Lovecraft’s weirdness greatly influenced me, but Mignola’s reimaginings of old legends also inspired me to take the magic and traditions of ancient cultures and mold them to my own liking. Hellboy’s presence was huge in my youth.

You’ve changed the standard zombie mythology to center on the spread of a contagious fungal infection rather than a virus. An easy head-shot won’t save you anymore. Are there essential characteristics of the undead that you won’t stray from?

Ah, but let’s not forget that the fungal infection is controlled by dark magic! It never has to be one thing or the other, you see. The three things I think remain important about the zombie in my mind are the following: one, they’re reanimated corpses; two, they kill the living; and three, they are without human feeling. You can have zombies talk, or run fast, or dance around hilariously. They can be viral or demonic or fungal or clockwork. But to me, a zombie is a walking corpse with murderous intentions that has no discernible sensations, physical or emotional. The zombie is remorseless, inevitable, unstoppable. It is humanity’s shell, physically and mentally.

You’ve created characters with depth, all of whom begin to grow out of their stereotypical shells as they grow closer to one another. Which kind of kid were you growing up? Did writing any of these characters cause you to stretch into a different way of thinking?

Man, I was all of these kids growing up. I had Ian’s ADD and energy, Kendra’s know-it-all steel trap mind, and PJ’s love of horror movies and total cowardice. What was a stretch was taking these aspects of myself and turning them into fully-formed characters or one type or another. But that’s why it’s fun to have them all together– they learn from each other, and learn that people different from them have strength of their own. If I had to pick one, I guess I’d go with PJ, just because I spent a lot of my youth watching horror movies and reading Fangoria.

The series has gone from standard cabin-in-the-woods zombies to water zombies, and then in Entombed we are introduced to a terrifying new cave zombie. What other versions of the undead are out there waiting to be unleashed upon the Gravediggers?

Right now, we’re capping the series as a trilogy. That satisfied me at first, but the longer it goes since I’ve written about the kids, the more I want to write more of the books (obviously, sales matter too, but honestly, if my publishers came to me today asking for Gravediggers Part Four, I’d probably say yes). But come on, I can’t tell you what the next incarnation of my zombies would be! That’s half the fun of reading these books– seeing what kind of disgusting dead-alive monsters are coming next! What kind of zombies would you like to see?


With each book, the mythology of the Gravediggers and Wardens deepens. The Gravediggers’ powers develop, and we learn more about the delicate and sometimes hostile relationship between the two factions. In fact, the conflict seems to be just warming up, (not to mention another relationship that is warming up between Ian and Kendra.) Do you have an over-arching plan for the series, or is this truly the end?

Here’s what I’ll say: in my mind, the next arch of the Gravediggers saga is mapped out, and honestly, it’s pretty cool (man, my editor is going to bust my chops when she reads this). The conflict between the Wardens and the Gravediggers continues, and comes to a head. And the zombies… well, if the book series continues, you’ll see. It’s pretty sweet, though.

Where do you think the line is that divides adult, full-splatter horror and the type of zombie story that can be read by a more general audience, like the game Plants vs Zombies allows for? Have you ever had to go back and dial-down a scene because you thought it might be too intense for your readers?

It’s a hard line to draw, for sure. For Gravediggers: Terror Cove, my editor Claudia came back telling me I needed to up the zombie gore. After reading the next draft, she came back saying, “Okay, now we need to reel it in a bit…” But with zombies, splatter is a necessity. It’s just about making it work for you. As much as I love really dark, grotesque horror, I’ve never been a massive gore guy. With a movie like Zombie, I always loved the zombies more than the murders. But bloodless zombies are boring. Zombies in their very nature are about man as meat. So it’s about making the gore a frightening part of the story without making it gratuitous or unnecessary. There’s a part in Terror Cove where a character mentions that the zombies eat every part of their prey, and he says, “They ate the teeth.” That right there is more unsettling and grotesque than a metric ton of bloody guts.

What new projects are you working on currently?

Oh no, I’m not falling for that one.

Related Posts:

INTERVIEW with Christopher Krovatin
Gravediggers: Entombed (Coming Next Week!)
Gravediggers: Terror Cove
Gravediggers: Mountain of Bones
Heavy Metal and You

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Joe Golem and the Drowning City

Posted August 25, 2014 By JS Daly

Joe Golem

Joe Golem and the Drowning City

by Mike Mignola & Christopher Golden
St. Martin’s Press, 2013
304 Pages
Young Adult
It is the 1970s, but an alternate reality where the city of New York has flooded, drowned like Venice, left in ruins and abandoned except for the poor who are left to scrounge in order to survive.
The creative force of these two, Mignola and Golden, convincingly takes you to another world. They are both masters of their genre. The descriptive prose is the key element of all the novels written by these authors, added to the Hellish occult imagery you will recognize from Hellboy, makes this a gothic-lovecraftian-steampunk-detective noir tour-de-force.
A spiritualist named Felix Orlov and his helper, a young lady called Molly McHugh, work in the Drowning City, the lower end of New York, offering his skills as a medium. The action starts when gas mask wearing men invade Felix’s home during a psychic reading and kill his clients. The gas mask suits, it turns out, are filled with eel creatures who then kidnap Felix and pursue Molly in a parkour chase through the city’s back passages and secret staircases, a ruined city of bridges and submerged skyscrapers. Just as hope is failing for her to escape, she is rescued by a street tough, a large, grey-skinned thug, who takes her to see a Mister Church.
Church is a 100-year-old detective straight from the pages of the Strand Magazine, while Molly’s rescuer Joe is a palooka sidekick out of a hard-boiled dime store pulp. Church tends devices which monitor occult activity within the city, activity which more often than not has some relationship to his arch-nemesis, Doctor Cocteau. (Yes, I kind of smell the Screw-On Head, here, too.) In fact, Mr. Church is himself some sort of steam-punk android.
Cocteau is currently searching for an object that can focus magical energies called Lector’s Pentajulum. Church believes that poor Felix is somehow associated with the Pentajulum because of his psychic abilities, and hence was taken by Cocteau’s hideous eel henchmen. Felix, Church explains, gained his abilities from an incident that occurred while his mother, pregnant with Felix, was being sacrificed by an occultist named Andrew Golnik (I love that they chose New York names rather than comic-book sounding tropes,) to one of the dark and ancient gods from what he describes only as “undimensioned space.”
So Molly and Joe set off to search Golnik’s grave in an attempt to beat Cocteau to the punch. It is a long trip through a rainstorm that evokes a creeping, soggy rot from the center, and ends in a horrifying struggle with a tree inhabited by Golnik’s corpse. Joe starts to have vivid dreams that explore his history, but before he can discover their true meaning, he is killed by the eel men and Molly is taken away.

Air rushed into his lungs, and he nearly vomited at the putrid, rotting stink that came with his first breath. Death and decay wafted from the hideous gullet of that gaping tree, a fermented, sulfurous odor that made his eyes water and his stomach roil.

Molly meets the insidious Dr. Cocteau in his underwater lair along with the thing he has stored in a watery tank. A thing that Cocteau hopes will call to its own kind, opening a rift into undimensioned space and enabling him to make use of the pentajulum to ride along, without a care for the subsequent destruction of humanity.

If half of what you’re saying is true, you’re going to roll the dice on the fate of the human race on an occult gadget you have no idea how to turn on.

Can Joe return to life and rescue Molly, Felix, and the world? Ghosts! Giant sea monsters! Lovecraftian gods of chaos! This novel is not to be missed!
Copper Girl

Joe Golem and the Copper Girl

Golden and Mignola also released a short-story prelude to the novel, (now available as an E-book,) about Joe and a goblin that has been visiting a girl at night; a girl who was once very ill, but then suddenly got better and developed a beautiful golden glow to her skin and hair. But what is it the family isn’t telling Joe? A well-crafted supernatural detective story. Although it is a short short story, it’s well worth the dollar download. I would really love to see a whole collection of Joe Golem fiction, maybe with some Screw-on Head tales to round them out.



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Fury of The Seventh Son

Posted August 4, 2014 By JS Daly


Fury of the Seventh Son
(Wardstone Chronicles #13)

by Joseph Delaney
HarperCollins (Greenwillow), 2014
480 Pages
Young Adult

Tom Ward is finally taking on an independent role in preparation for becoming a true Spook rather than just an apprentice. He talks to John Gregory, and comes clean about some of the things he has been hiding from him, primarily that his mam was really Zenobia, the first of the Lamia witches, and that Tom was always intended to act as her weapon against the Fiend, against the dark itself, her gift to the County.
The Spook agrees with Tom that the ceremony to take Alice’s thumbs is simply too horrible to consider.

It’s more than just cold-blooded murder. It’s barbaric. Do that, and we’re not fit to call ourselves human. The ritual is out of the question.

Tom runs into Mab Moldheel again, and she tells Tom of Alice’s new plan to recite the Doomdryte, but also informs him that she was kidnapped by its author. Legend told that the mage Lukrasta had died trying to recite the entire book flawlessly, an act that would have granted him nearly enough power to become a god. Apparently he didn’t fail after all.
The first US edition of the book has a terrible editing flaw on page 43. I had to stop, flip back, and figure out that they had repeated a paragraph, suspending the narrative flow.

I would love to see a Spook’s Apprentice board game. The Race to Pendle!
Oh no, my luck card reads: “Grimalkin takes your thumbs, lose a turn!”

As we watch the Spook write his last will and testament, he and Tom prepare for a visit to the Wardstone, a great mountain to the West that has strange properties, including, possibly, the ability to travel through time… while carrying someone with it! Soon the pair meet up with their old fair-weather ally when they discover Grimalkin in a pool of her own blood. She is still alive, but has lost the Fiend’s head while hopelessly outnumbered. They take her back to Chippenden with dread in their hearts.
The Bestiary has now appeared in every spook book since its conception, like Lovecraft and his Necronomicon; it is an old friend for Tom to carry forward into his new life.
Tom discovers a new gift, a part of his heritage. It is the hunter’s gift to detect the direction of his prey, whether it’s a rabbit for dinner, the woman he loves, or the Fiend’s head.
As a kick in the teeth, Tom sees that the witches who left Grimalkin for dead have no plans to repatriate the head back to Ireland. The Fiend’s body was brought all the way to the County! While attempting to retrieve it from within a fortified tower, Tom is is attacked by Lukrasta, the mage who was supposed to have died in the Doomdryte ritual. And by Alice, now apparently in his thrall. Tom has a weapon in his back pocket, though. He calls on the Boggart for help!
Once inside, Tom takes a sledgehammer to the heart. Alice and Lukrasta have shared a bed, and she has left him a “Dear John” letter. I felt Tom’s pain acutely; the woman he loves is now willingly in the arms of another. She has gone to the dark.
On the return journey, Fiend’s head in hand, Tom is cornered by a contingent of witches. In rides Grimalkin to rescue him, tied to a horse because her body is still so badly damaged. Riding back with her, they stop to bathe, and Tom sees her naked. I wonder just what will develop between these two in the next series, The Starblade Chronicles?
Trap door: A water witch drags you back to the lair of the skelts.
Escape only on a roll of 5 or 6 on your next turn.

Once safely back in Chippenden, Grimalkin has Tom help re-break her leg and she sets it with a silver pin that will cause her extreme pain for the rest of her days. Luckily she knows Jedi mind tricks.
Alice comes in the night to take back the head of the Fiend. Though Tom binds her with his Mam’s silver chain, Alice disappears. But first she tears him apart by telling him she is truly in love with Lukrasta, that she has fallen to the dark, and she reveals to him her now complete full-moon birthmark. She is now supporting the Fiend because she, like the mage, believes Him to be less of a threat than the god of the Kobalos, who will surely take power if the Fiend dies.
Hmmm… The god of the Kobalos is a skelt, and the Destiny blade has a skelt on it…
Kratch, the boggart, is suddenly gone after Alice’s visit, no doubt some revenge by Lukastra for the damage it did at the tower. When it finally re-appears, it asks for Tom’s blood a second time, which he gives. Then Tom remembers that a witch binds her familiar by allowing it to drink three times. What will he do when the boggart asks again?

I was afraid to offer more of my blood, afraid that I might die in the process, afraid of what the consequences might be. But if I wished to have the boggart as an ally—how could I refuse?

Forces are gathered as an army from those witches who oppose The Fiend, including Tom’s brother James, and a War Council is held at the Spook’s home in Chippenden: Bill Arkwright’s replacement in water witch territory to the North, Judd Brinscall, is there; Mab is invited, Grimalkin is accepted as the leader, and (YAY!) Slake joins the team. The good guys need a new plan now that Alice is no longer a willing sacrifice. The odds are against us and the situation is grim.

The battle is joined at the Wardstone. Many other witch assassins from beyond the county come, the Fiend is strung up, his head attached, and the ritual to revive Him begins! The forces all clash at once in a great explosion of thunder and steel!

There were other witches carrying blades like Grimalkin, and I wondered if they were the assassins of clans that dwelled far beyond the county. Some witches carried long poles with blades lashed to the end. But it wasn’t their weapons that filled my heart with foreboding; it was the sheer number of them. After ten minutes the column was still emerging from the mist.


A wick witch slithers in your window! Go back three spaces!

Sadly, I feel like this book was just a setup for the next series where Tom is the Spook. It was not fulfilling as the culmination of a thirteen book series. I myself feel betrayed by Alice, though admittedly I knew a “betrayal” was coming. I had expected Alice to die. The romance that made me fall in love with the first thirteen books now causes bile to rise in my throat. I feel like Dumbledore just died. The concrete that holds the whole story together is the relationship between Alice and Tom, and I am not sure how long I will hang onto the new Starblade Chronicles with her as a hostile force. The series will be lost completely without Arrasmiths woodcuts.

Related Posts:
Fury of the Seventh Son
I Am Alice
Slither’s Tale
I Am Grimalkin
Lure of the Dead
The Spook’s Bestiary
The Ghost Prison



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