Friday, March 4, 2011
by Anthony Horowitz
Sent to Groosham Grange as a last resort by his frustrated parents, thirteen-year-old David Eliot quickly discovers that his new boarding school is very peculiar. New pupils are made to sign their names in blood . . . the French teacher cancels classes on days there’s a full moon . . . there are chilling secrets hidden in the assistant headmaster’s office. What’s the meaning of the black rings everyone wears? Where do the other pupils vanish to at night? Suddenly, his biggest problem isn’t staying in school—it’s getting out alive. (description taken from Amazon.com)
Okay, honestly I hated this book. I agreed to read it to "review" it for our Children's Department because we also have a copy in the Teen Department and because I like Horowitz's Alex Rider series. Ugh...I don't think I would have finished this book if I wasn't reporting it to someone.
It's unnecessarily gruesome in my opinion for the intended audience. There are scenes of implied and actual violence throughout the book. David's father abuses both his wife and son, his mother is an open alcoholic that constantly bows to her awful husband, the teachers unapologetically murder someone and then threaten David's life to get him to conform to their wishes.
The final straw for me...that by the end of the book, David does not learn what's really going on and strive to change things. No - he is happily unsure of whether he'll embrace his new powers for good, or heck...just for fun, maybe evil. A sour note to end on.
I will say that I can see why young teen boys might like this book. It's got dismembered hands, a vampire, an uber-creepy headmaster(s), and the potential to get revenge on awful parents. The chapters are also really short and easy to read. I already know this is a popular title... personally, though, I probably won't be recommending it too often.