Hello hello, and welcome or welcome back to my little corner of the internet. Today I’m bringing you my review of the middle grade ghost story mystery, The Haunting of Aveline Jones. I read this as one of the prompts for a readathon this month, but also to see just how scary it was ahead of giving it to my son to read. He’s more of an adventure and fantasy books person.
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.
Turn on your torches, and join Aveline Jones in her first charmingly spooky mystery, from debut author Phil Hickes.
This might have been middle grade, but damn was it spooky! I read the second half of the book in the middle of a nighttime storm and it left me craving a night light.
The story was well constructed, with beautiful illustrations ending each chapter, along with curious lines from someone who we only know at the beginning as “P.P.”. As the book progresses, we get more information, both about Aveline’s current adventures, and about “P.P.”: Primrose Penberthy, and her disappearance thirty years previously, and her mysterious connection to the book Aveline has found.
The author manages to keep the question mark over any actual supernatural activity hovering until close to the end when things are wrapping up, and this whole part was very skillfully done. There can be a bit of snobbery and ignorance towards adults reading middle grade, thinking that the level of skill of the author is reduced if they’re writing for children instead, but there is something utterly wonderful to be found in books meant for children, and some of the best books I’ve read this year have been middle grade, specifically the Cassidy Blake series, which looks at ghost stories from another angle entirely.
I’m so looking forward to the second book, which I’ve been given an ARC of from NetGalley, The Bewitching of Aveline Jones.
My reviews of the Cassidy Blake series in order can be found below:
City of Ghosts
Tunnel of Bones
Bridge of Souls
If you’re looking for some spooky middle grade to go alongside this one, I can’t recommend those more! I’ll be back soon with my review of The Bewitching of Aveline Jones, so be sure to keep an eye out.