Tag Archives: Quirk Books

Countdown City Review

With just 77 days before a deadly asteroid collides with earth, detective Hank Palace just can’t seem to leave police work alone. Though he may have been technically out of a job, when a woman from his past begs for help finding her missing husband he just can’t say no.

Continuing directly from the Edgar® award-winning novel The Last Policeman, Countdown City presents another fascinating mystery set on the brink of apocalypse as Hank Palace seeks desperately to find out ‘whodunit’ while at the same time coming to terms with a world that’s literally coming apart around him. His journey takes him from an anarchistic college campus to a crumbling coastal landscape where anti-immigrant militia shoot down refugee boats descending upon the American coast. At each and every turn he makes Hank Palace must confront some strange new facet of human society that has risen up from the knowledge that very soon the world is going to end. Continue reading »

Teacher’s Pest: an interview with Charles Gilman

Teacher's Pest Book CoverI was recently lucky enough to receive a sample copy of The Slither Sisters – a gruesome, action-packed adventure for younger readers set in the aptly named Lovecraft Middle School. The latest book in the series, Teacher’s Pest, is released on the 7th May in the UK and promises more action, more adventure, and even more outrageous monsters.

Speaking to the series’ author, Charles Gilman (real name Jason Rekulak), it’s clear that writing has always been in his blood:

“I’ve been interested in writing and making books for as long as I can remember,” says Charles. “I started drawing and self-publishing my comic strips in 5th grade, more than thirty years ago, and I would sell my (hand-illustrated, handbound) comic books in the school cafeteria for 10 cents a pop. I graduated to fiction during adolescence after finally realising that I really can’t draw.  When I graduated from college, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else except working in book publishing; I wanted to get some hands-on experience into process right away!”

It was while working as an editor in Philadelphia that the ideas for Lovecraft Middle School series started to form in Charles’ mind.

“While working in publishing I became really interested in lenticular printing,” continues Charles. “Lenticulars are basically printed images that can change or “morph” when you move past them.  Some of them are really sophisticated now, with 12 or even 16 frames of animation.  I had this idea for a series of books, a sort of haunted library, and each book would showcase a different person morphing into a different kind of monster.  This kind of series seemed best suited for children, and the need for a range of different creatures led me to Lovecraft — to a sort of Lovecraftian world full of different beasts and creatures.  Finally, since the covers would be depicting these grotesque physical transformations, it only seemed natural to set the stories in middle school, when children begin to undergo disgusting physical transformations of their own.”

One of the most difficult aspects of writing monster-filled books for young people is striking the balance between writing a good gruesome story, without making the books too scary for younger readers. Thankfully, Charles is in the perfect position to pitch his books at just the right level:

“Striking a balance is quite easy for me,” laughs Charles. “I have a 9 year old son and there are lots of young children in my family.  I know their limits!   I try to keep the tone pretty light and fun.  I think the covers are far more terrifying than anything in the text, and that balance has always felt right to me. If a kid can muster the courage to pick up the book and open it, he or she will be delighted to find that the things we fear often aren’t as scary as we make them out to be.  This is certainly something I wish I learned earlier in life!”

With previous books featuring monsters including harpies, cthulus, a gargoyle and a pair of twisted serpentine sisters, the Lovecraft Middle School series is certainly not lacking in monstrous content. In his latest book Teacher’s Pest, Charles has turned his attention to the insect domain:

“Bugs really freak me out,” says Charles. “One of my favourite movie scenes of all time is the bug tunnel sequence in ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’ – the whole set piece in the middle where the characters are walking on bugs, getting bugs in their hair, reaching into crevasses full of bugs… I’ve watched it a million times and it freaks me out every time.   I guess I wanted to do a Lovecraft Middle School that evoked a lot of the same creepy-crawly feelings. As the story opens, it’s early November, winter is coming, and all kinds of insects are creeping and crawling into Lovecraft Middle School. Wasps, head lice, flies, ladybugs, cockroaches… bugs are literally everywhere.  The library is infested with moths and silverfish.  Clearly something’s up, and Robert and his buddies have to unravel the mystery. Readers can certainly expect another hair-raising adventure with lots of good (and occasionally gross) fun!”

Teacher’s Pest is officially released on the 7th May in the UK, and comes complete with a beautiful lenticular hard-back cover. Will Robert Arthur and his friends survive the foul insect invasion of their school? Read Teacher’s Pest to find out!

So what’s next for author Charles Gilman? Are there any more books in the pipeline?

“Well, I’ve just finished Book 4, Substitute Creature, which comes out in September,” says Charles. “After that, I’d like to see us move to a one-book-a-year schedule, because I’d like for subsequent volumes to grow in terms of length and complexity.  I actually have a 12 book arc planned out – 6 books for seventh grade and 6 books for eighth grade. So there’s a lot more adventure left in the series yet!

To find out more about author Charles Gilman, and his new book Teacher’s Pest, visit www.lovecraftmiddleschool.com. Alternatively, visit www.quirkbooks.com.

The Slither Sisters Review

The Slither Sisters by Charles Gilman is the second book in the “Tales from Lovecraft Middle School” series. It follows the story of twelve-year-old Robert Arthur and best friends: the school bully, the school ghost, and a very hungry two-headed rat. Not your normal collection of friends that’s for sure, and readers will be delighted to learn that The Slither Sisters is crammed full of hideous monsters and creepy goings-on as the enigmatic ‘Master’ continues his plan to slowly but surely take over the world.

From the very outset of The Slither Sisters we are thrown straight into the action. Our hero Robert is faced with an enormous tentacled monstrosity (accompanied with a fitting illustration), and the book doesn’t let up as we encounter all manner of monsters from tiny Cthulhus to giant pythons and even a screaming harpy! On the back of the book, Ransom Riggs describes the series as ‘great creepy fun’, and this sums the series up perfectly. Younger readers will love the monsters, and the intrigue, and even as an adult reader, I never found myself bored, or hoping that the book would pick up in pace. From the first page to the last, The Slither Sisters is a great adventure story, complete with creepy monsters and excitement that younger readers will just love. Continue reading »

The Last Policeman Review

What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die soon, anyway?

This is the question posed by The Last Policeman, the new book from New York Times best-selling author Ben H. Winters.

Set in the not too distant future, The Last Policeman follows Detective Hank Palace – a man faced with an uphill struggle to maintain law and order in a world faced with certain apocalypse. With the impact of asteroid 2011GV1 looming on the horizon, the Concord Police Department find many locals turn to suicide as their “way out”. But while suicide may be an increasingly common scenario, still there are murders that need to be solved. When rookie Detective Palace finds himself confronted with what would seem like just another suicide, his instincts tell him otherwise. Despite overwhelming pressure telling him to give up and stop wasting his time, Palace sets out to find the murderer, and in so doing sets himself on a course to confront some of the deepest questions at the heart of the human condition. What is life worth? What would we do, what would we really do, if our days were numbered? Continue reading »

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Review

I admit I wasn’t sure what to think when I first received my copy of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The grey, eerie cover photo is strangely haunting, and it was only after a few moments of staring into the small girl’s dark hollow eyes that I noticed her feet aren’t planted on solid ground at all!

As a somewhat seasoned reviewer, my instincts made me pause: “So, it’s going to be one of those books is it…” Generally, I’d say I’m pretty good when it comes to things like this. Add to the eerie cover the author’s slightly peculiar name – Ransom Riggs – and I will be honest with you here readers, I really didn’t expect too much from this book at all.

Oh how wrong I was. Continue reading »