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Chris Priestley

Bloomsbury  (2008)


Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack, March 2010

Tales of Terror from the Black Ship is a young adult novel that works very effectively for younger readers, but has a little less to offer to older readers. This is largely because older readers are likely to spot the twist at the end very early on; but in part also because each of the individual stories that make up the novel are likely to seem familiar to older readers.

The story opens in the middle of a vicious storm.  Ethan and his younger sister Cathy are violently ill, and their father has left them alone to go and fetch the doctor.  In the worst of the storm, a stranger knocks on the door, begging for shelter. Despite his misgivings, the partially recovered Ethan can’t bring himself to refuse anyone shelter on such a night.  He allows the stranger entry, and reluctantly agrees to having the visitor tell him and Cathy terrifying tales to pass the time.  Ethan and Cathy like scary stories, but some of those the stranger tells scare even them; and Ethan remains uneasy about the stranger’s real intentions.

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