By Author / Illustrator
Paperback / softback
The brand new must-read middle-grade novel from the author of super-spookyCrater Lake. Perfect for 9+ fans of R.L.Stine's Goosebumps.
Angelo and his friends know that together they can handle any pretty much anything - including giant mutant spiders or snake-like parasites that burrow into your brain. But when a terrifying new enemy attacks from above it seems they have met their ultimate match . . . how can they defeat giant vampire birds that are after BLOOD?
With summer term in full force - and sports day and prom night on the horizon - the whole school is in danger. The gang need a plan to bring safety to the skies!
Anyone who has read my previous reviews of the Dread Wood series knows by now that I am a walking contradiction: I'm a self-confessed wimp, whilst simultaneously being a massive Jennifer Killick buff. I've found myself in the awkward quandary of being a horror fan, who hates horror.
What you don't yet know is that my all-time biggest fear - bigger than my fear of heights, snakes, death, or spiders - is a fear of birds. I have an extreme case of ornithophobia! So picture this… The latest book in the Dread Wood series lands on my doormat. And it's called Flock Horror. It is a testament to the quality of Jennifer's writing that even me, a bird-fearing, horror-hater could not wait to rejoin Club Loser for their latest Latchitt battle. And boy did it not disappoint!
Angelo and his friends are just regular tweens. Battling spots, embarrassing parents, mega crushes, mutant spiders and brain-eating parasites (yes, you did read that right), what could possibly faze them? Their forthcoming prom? Summer examinations? Blood sucking vampire birds? The latest book in the Dread Wood series has all the charm of its prequels. It's laugh-out-loud funny, it has heart and the characters face genuine peril. I love how Killick gives backstories involving real situations that young adults face - things like health issues, family problems and poverty. This means that despite the vampire birds, Flock Horror is relatable. Each character feels like they could lead as they are all well-developed and multi-faceted. The villains are delightfully wicked - the stuff of nightmares.
Flock Horror is a brilliant balance of funny and scary. Killick gets the tone just right, yet again. It's a book that will 'fly' off any classroom bookshelf and I can't wait to see where Club Loser end up next.
320 pages / Reviewed by Linda Canning, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 9+
When Angelo is woken in the middle of the night and hears something hammering at his bedroom window, along with a strange tune being whistled, it's the start of another scary adventure for Club Loser. Angelo and his friends Colette, Gus, Naira and Hallie come face to face with their arch enemies, the Latchitts. Desperate to reconnect with their long-lost granddaughter, the Latchitts have created seven huge vampire birds thirsty for blood, and are using them to stop Colette's friends from protecting her. Whenever the tune Sing a Song of Sixpence is played, the vampire birds, and flocks of smaller ones, are programmed to attack - and attack they do! It is up to the members of Club Loser to use their bravery, intelligence and initiative to defeat the Latchitts and their horrific feathered army.
Flock Horror is the third in the Dread Wood series, and I have not read the previous two novels. However, the author gives enough information as to past events and it was easy to pick up the story. The characters are well drawn; Angelo is the narrator and we learn of his home life - his parents are both hardworking but are not particularly well off, however, Angelo and his younger brother Raph are loved and well cared for. Gus has health issues and an operation when he was young means that he has to wear a stoma bag. He is probably my favourite character, flamboyant and totally at ease in his own skin. He admits to going to make-up parties with his mother and even wears a dress at one point - and loves it! He is funny, finding humour in the most stressful situations. The girls, Hallie and Colette are strong and feisty, always involved in the action. Angelo has a crush on Colette, and his emerging feelings for her are portrayed sensitively by the author.
The story is fast-paced and quite scary in parts. There is enough blood and gore to satisfy the intended reading age, but the horror is tempered with a great deal of humour. I have a phobia of birds, and found some of the descriptions of birds attacking quite terrifying! At its heart, though, the main theme of this book is friendship. At several key points one of the friends puts themselves in danger to save another. When things turn nasty, no one is ever left behind, they all have each other's backs at all times. When Gus is taken ill during one particularly violent bird attack, the other friends work together to make sure he is safe, and when Colette offers to sacrifice herself to the Latchitts to protect her friends, they will not allow her to do so. Their loyalty and love for one another is woven throughout the book.
The conclusion to the novel is truly action-packed, very exciting and satisfying, and the author gives just the merest hint that Club Loser is not yet totally lout of danger. I can see this series being extremely popular with young readers, and I am interested to see what adventures befall this intrepid gang next.
320 pages / Reviewed by Beverley Somerset, school librarian
Suggested Reading Age 9+