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.
One particular highlight for me is the quality of the cover and illustrations. Quirk Books is renowned in my mind for always doing something ‘a bit different’, and the Lovecraft Middle School series is no exception. Each book is presented in beautiful hardback, complete with a unique holographic ‘duel image’ cover. Look at the cover in one light and you see two fairly normal looking twin sisters; look in another light and you see the sisters in their true monstrous forms! This is a really nice touch in my opinion, and sets the books off nicely. The illustrations are also very well judged. They seem to find just the right balance between ‘gruesome’ and ‘not too scary’ for the younger audience, and at no point do they detract from the text itself, as can be the case in some illustrated books.
While I would certainly highly recommend the Lovecraft Middle School series to readers in the 10–14 bracket, the only question mark for me really is just where the books are going to go. I love the concept, just as much as I love the covers and the fast-paced story. However, the main criticism from my mind is that these books are less a ‘series’ and more a ‘serialisation’. As much as you can pick up each individual book and read it in its own right, they ideally need to be read together as a whole. I’m pleased to see that the third book in the series, Teacher’s Pest will be ‘buzzing into bookstores’ in May 2013, and I look forward to reading it. I just wonder how many books there are going to be, as taken in isolation, there is nothing to sell each individual book in its own right – each book exists solely as the next part of the story. Too many books in the series and I fear things may get stale, but too few, and printing as a series wouldn’t seem to make sense.
I have great hopes for the Lovecraft Middle School series, and I think The Slither Sisters is an excellent book. The author and the publisher have both done a really good job in presenting an enjoyable and exciting adventure story in an innovative and interesting way. I can’t wait to find out where the story goes next!