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The Haunting of Aveline Jones

Phil Hickes

Usborne – Published 17th September 2020

“Malmouth appeared to have all the right ingredients for a Haunting. Stormy weather. Old houses. The eerie grey swell of the sea. But, most of all, that uncanny emptiness that ghosts like best.”

I devoured The Haunting of Aveline Jones in a matter of hours. It’s thrilling, mysterious and spooky and I literally could not put it down! A real page-turner!

A ghost story, an unsolved mystery coupled with an eerie seaside setting in the run up to Halloween make this the perfect Autumn read. The September publication date is timed impeccably to ensure that the atmosphere will mirror the dark, blustery autumn afternoons described in the book and the approach of All Hallows Eve. As the days get shorter and the nights get longer, this book is best enjoyed cuddled up in front of the fire as it begins to get dark.

Whilst her mother looks after Granny who is ill in hospital, Aveline Jones has to go and spend half term with her Aunt Lilian in Malmouth on the Cornish coast. The town has unnerving Halloween tradition and creepy scarecrow dummies begin appearing outside the cottages.

Aveline loves reading ghost stories and she pays a visit to the town’s quirky second hand bookshop. Here she meets the shop’s eccentric owner, Ernst Lieberman and his nephew Harold. As she browses the shelves, a book of local folklore book catches her eye. Aveline discovers it belonged to a girl called Primrose Penberthy, who vanished mysteriously, some 30 years ago and has never been seen since. She then makes another disturbing discovery when she comes to read the final legend in the book ‘The Lady in the Waves.’ Sensing that her findings are somehow linked, Aveline is intrigued. She decides to investigate Primrose’s disappearance, with some help from her new friend, Harold but then the hauntings begin… The story reaches its nerve-jangling climax on Halloween night.

The exact amount of suspense needed is delivered at just the right moments; a scraping sound in the middle of the night, small marks on the window pane that resemble a small hand…these build to a deliver a spectacular dose of horror appropriate to middle grade fiction.

Although the principal character is female, I feel this book would appeal to both boys and girls in equal measure. I thoroughly enjoyed the dynamic between Aveline and Harold– the awkwardness between them, desperately trying to hide the fact that they like each other perfectly captured the pre-teen relationships of upper primary school pupils. They make a great duo. The character of Aveline’s Aunt Lilian was also cleverly developed as the story progressed and I loved seeing the subtle changes in her relationship with her niece.

As a primary teacher, I would delight in reading this book to a class of Year 5 or 6 pupils – I loved scaring myself silly listening to a ghost stories as a child. This would be an ideal class book just before October half term and I know they would be on the edge of their seats wanting more.

I was absolutely thrilled to discover at the very end of the book that my adventures with Aveline Jones are not over…there is going to be a second in the series! The short synopsis of ‘The Bewitching of Aveline Jones’ sounds equally as gripping as the first and I shall be eagerly awaiting its arrival.

Thank you to Net Galley and Usborne Publishing for allowing me to read a digital copy of this fantastic book ahead of publication.


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