The Horror of Dunwick Farm

(The Crooked Oak Mysteries)

Dan Smith

Illustrated by Chris King

Mystery and horror with a sprinkling of sci-fi, The Crooked Oak Mysteries have become a firm favourite of mine. So when the latest fast-paced, novella-length adventure landed on my doormat on Christmas Eve, I couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

I adored Goosebumps as a kid and these are even better! Great for fans of Crater Lake, they’re absolutely gripping with just the right amount of creepy thrills for primary pupils but equally engaging for KS3 pupils (or adults!) too.

The series centre around a group of Year 8 friends Pete, Nancy and Krish and the weird, mysterious and often terrifying situations they get themselves into – in and around the decievingly sleepy town of Crooked Oak. And this latest adventure is no exception – Arachnophobia eat your heart out!

When an unidentified plane crashes in fields next to Dunwick Farm, it quickly becomes clear that it was carrying some unusual cargo. When people in the town suddenly begin to fall ill and animals become distressed, the teens decide to investigate.

The crash site is heavily guarded by shiny black vehicles but strangely, none of the emergency services are in attendance at the scene. The trio hide out in the woods to spy and get a glimpse of some mysterious glass boxes being taken away by equally mysterious men and women in dark suits.

It looks like a cover-up of something pretty huge is afoot, but as they uncover the facts, the trio become entangled in a terrifying web – take a look at Chris King’s action-packed cover illustration for more clues that will make your skin crawl…

I urge readers new to The Crooked Oak Mysteries to invest in the first two books in the series. Each story focuses on a different teen as the lead character and explores their back-story and personality traits. At just over 100 pages each they are books that you won’t be able to help binging in one sitting. If you love the vibes from The Horror of Dunwick Farm, read on to find out more about the previous two instalments…

Something sinister is happening in Crooked Oak & what’s hiding in Harwood Forest…?

A virus, biohazards, a spooky school camp and an abandoned MOD institute make for intriguing and hair-raising reads. I’ve popped a little info for book 1 and 2 of the series below – I need to borrow a KS2 class to read these to!

Ever since the fracking site closed, Nancy’s parents have been acting weird. Their eyes are blank, they won’t eat- it’s like they’re no longer themselves. And now the symptoms are spreading to others as well…

Nancy, Pete and Krish are determined to find out what’s going on. But the deeper they dig, the scarier the mystery gets. A dark prescience is spreading its tendrils across Crooked Oak. Can they stop it before it takes the whole town?

When the 3 friends arrive at Heathland Camp for a school trip, they’re in for an adventure – just not the kind they were expecting.

Nearby sits the abandoned Harwood Institute. The crumbling buildings are out of bounds  but strange screams come from the forest at night. Mystery shrouds the events that took place at the institute during the war, so Pete and his mates make it their mission to find out the truth.

But the forest is hiding a sinister secret and the trio could be in real danger…

I really hope this isn’t the final mystery – I’m sure there’s scope for more strange happenings to occur in Crooked Oak and I really hope Dan Smith treats us to another adventure.

With thanks to Barrington Stoke for my review copy of The Horror of Dunwick Farm, out 6th January.

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