I loved the unruly twins, Dwight and Dwayne Fergus, right from the start, as they scoured Blatchford for Halloween treats late into the night, even though it meant getting into trouble. (I'm sure I've had them visiting me far past their bedtimes on October 31st) Their antics when Carolina Giddle comes to babysit are hilarious. The twins are stunned as Carolina outmaneuvers them time and again. I love how her story, The Bone Game, enthralls and bridles the little rascals.
There are other children at The Blatchford Arms, and Carolina Giddle has just the right scary stories for each of them. There's the story of The Mountain King and the Shadow Killer, for Hetty and Hurbert Croop, who is afraid of the dark. The Scaly Batmonster of Scuggins Creek, entertains Elsa, Galina, and Luba, the artist's children. The screaming Angleo Bellini is tamed by her story of The Tantrumolos. Benjamin Hooper and his siblings are entertained by The Alien Ghosts. In her final story, Carolina Giddle tells the story of the ghost at Blatchford Arms.
Huser captures the tone and setting in just a few lines.
"Blatchford was scary any night of the year, not just on Halloween. It was a very old part of town with crooked streets and bad lighting. Cats yowled and scrapped in th alleys. Teenagers with tattoos were known to hang out under the bridges by the park."
"An hour past midnight, all of the excitement over Halloween had faded away. There was just the smallest taste of it left, like the sweetness from a caramel. Children had fallen asleep, even those complaining of stomach-aches."
This is a perfect navel to read out loud to youngsters in the week or so before Halloween. There is humour and gentle scariness in each of the tales. I think it would be best for grade five and under, but then I'm a whole lot older than that, and I am infatuated with it.