Stage Fright – Scary tales from the theatre

Rosie Radford

What’s lurking beneath the stage…?

Who still walks the theatre years after the audience has gone home?

School mates Luke and Dev are about to find out when they stumble into a seemingly derelict theatre. The place is deserted, unless you count the spiders, all peeling paint, faded carpets and dusty velvet seats…or is it?

The boys are startled by a strange man, sitting in the box office –  what on earth is he doing there, the place has been abandoned for years? He begins to tell the boys the first of our three spine-tingling stories of the once prestigious Empire Royal Theatre; of a perilous act that took place there in the 1890s. The boys learn of tradgey and betrayal and all the while, there is the feeling that perhaps the theatre isn’t unoccupied after all…

Fast-forward to the 1940 for the second spooky tale, ‘The Ghost Light.’ Despite War raging, an annual Christmas pantomime is being put on at the theatre. School has closed due to the bombings and Mo is helping out her Uncle Jack, as part of the team backstage – this usually involves however being at the beck and call of star of the show and larger than life fairy godmother Lulia Anastasia D’Succo.

But it’s not all pantomime horses and scenery; when a crew member mysteriously disappears and Uncle Jack fails to return from searching for him, it’s up to Mo to solve the mystery. Using the stage’s safety light or ‘ghost light’ Mo peers up into the rafters above – what secrets is the theatre hiding…?

Finally, we finish up in the 1970s for ‘A Strange Exit.’ By now, the theatre has been converted into a cinema and Star Wars is showing on the big screen. Desperate to see the film but not yet old enough, Jules tells his parents he’s going to the early morning kids film – they barely say goodbye, if only they knew…

Jules hides in the auditorium waiting for Star Wars to start but he gets more than he bargained for – will he ever leave the theatre?

Anyone who knows my reading preferences knows I can’t resist a spooky tale and these were no exception. Ghosts, hauntings, unexplained happenings…they were right up my street.

Stage Fright had all the feels of a Barrington Stoke book – I’m a huge fan of their range which due to the novella length and illustrations, hugely appeal to reluctant readers. Short, sharp and full of suspense, a whole scary story can be completed in one or two sittings – perfect for when the nights start drawing in this autumn.

Stage Fright was published on the 11th August by Dinosaur Books. I am thrilled to have been given the chance to review a proof copy of the book.

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