Dead Voices – Katherine Arden (Puffin, $17.99)
reviewed by Louise Ward, Wardini Books
Ollie, Coco and Brian are firm friends and they're off on a ski trip to a new resort at Mt Hemlock with Ollie's dad and Coco's mum. A nasty storm hits part way through their journey and by the time they get there the snow is thick, the generators are struggling and they are the only guests to have made it through. What a brilliant set up for a spook fest.
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The resort is a former orphanage and it's not long before eerie things start to occur. The stuffed animals move, the children have visions of frozen orphans and there are voices pleading for help. Soon after their arrival, another visitor succeeds in his struggle through the snow – Mr Voland, a journalist investigating haunted buildings. The children connect their experiences and agree to help Mr Voland in his investigations, keeping it all under the radar and well away from their protective parents.
There is some really scary stuff going on at Mt Hemlock. An orphan is desperate to find her bones so that she can leave, a mysterious masked skier seems to be sending a message and Mother Hemlock herself reaches her bony, ghostly fingers through worlds. The children find themselves in real danger, trying to unravel who they can trust and fighting for their lives as they are sucked into the ghost world, facing an old adversary.
There are themes of friendship, bravery, and challenging what others expect from you. The ghosts are jaw-droppingly scary so this is definitely a book for kids who delight in being rattled and are fascinated by the paranormal.
This is the second novel to feature Ollie, Coco and Brian, brave children who faced down terrifying scarecrows and the eerie Smiling Man. No need to read Small Spaces to enjoy this one, though, just a stomach for ghosts, danger and spine chilling adventure.