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The Haunting of Aveline Jones by Phil Hickes

Spooky, atmospheric ghost story which is one of my favourite middle grade reads of 2021. Ages 9+.

“I live in a place where it’s always dark and the wind never stops blowing.”

I read and reviewed this wonderful book over on my YouTube channel a while back and can’t believe I didn’t post it on here, but better late than never.

The Haunting of Aveline Jones by Phil Hickes is one my favourite middle grade reads of this year. Aveline is packed off to her Auntie’s house in a small Cornish seaside town over October half-term. Being off-season, the usually busy tourist spot is quiet and empty and with Halloween approaching, it is rather eerie and sinister. As an avid reader of ghost stories and the supernatural, Aveline is delighted to discover a dusty, old second-hand bookshop in which she finds a book of local legends. However, after reading the book, strange things begin to happen…

Atmospheric, spooky and gorgeously autumnal, this book was such a delightful read. I loved how Aveline’s passion for books and ghost stories drives the adventure and mystery. One of my favourite lines was the description of the local bookshop:

“It was unlike any bookshop Aveline had ever seen. Its windows were thick with grime. The tiny doorway resembled the entrance to a hobbit hole. Water dripped from a broken drainpipe into a small puddle at the base of the steps. Yet there was something intriguing about it too. A secret book cave waiting to be explored.”

This is a genuinely spooky ghost story, so I wouldn't advise it for children who are faint of heart. Reading it on dark, cold mornings probably added to the atmospheric feel of the book, but I found it to be deliciously gothic and creepy. Aveline as a character is resourceful and clever, with a nose for a mystery. Her second adventure, The Bewitching of Aveline Jones, promises to be another great read. The illustrations by Keith Robinson are scattered throughout the book, providing charming detail to an already fantastic story. I look forward to more of Aveline's adventures!

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