The Ghouls of Howlfair- Nick Tomlinson

When I originally heard about this book on Twitter I was SO excited. I’ve always been a fan of spooky books and this marries together Middle Grade Horror but with a Mystery twist so I was so happy to get my hands on a copy of this book. And it totally lives up to my expectations!

Perfect for both Octobers and year round chills this has flavours of Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Veronica Mars with a Supernatural ghoulish twist.

Book cover for The Ghouls of Howlfair
Cover by Kim Geyer

Howlfair is a town rumoured to be built over a mouth of Hell, and until a guild of miners went into the pits to close the gateway the town was victim to a plague of supernatural hauntings and disasters… or so the Tourism board says.

Molly Thompson suspects there is a kernel of truth to the legends though, but few are willing to entertain her investigative revelations as more than nasty gossip mongering.

A problem that could turn deadly as Molly discovers someone is summoning ghouls to do dirty deeds with a hellish endgame on the cards…

‘Outside the day was darkening as a coven of clouds debated whether to smite the town with rain.’

This book is intensely brilliant, it’s pitched perfectly at the edge of that ‘heart in the throat’ chilling thrills for the young reader but holds the readers hand enough with strong characters being brave to stop it becoming frightening.

Just enough though as there are some intense haunting scenes that very sensitive souls may have nightmares involving blue eyed ghouls, moths and grotty pubs!!

Whilst I love Lowry with her mispronouncing boon-cranks, giggling over naughty pixies and believing she is descended from werewolves, it’s Molly that is such an engaging and wonderful character.

There is a particular sense of doom you feel when you are a small-ish person carrying a laundry bag to school where a bully named Felicity is planning to murder you.

Molly of course shares character traits with some other strong tenacious and determined-to-a-fault female protagonists but she still has this fresh air of uniqueness.

I think the dichotomy of being precociously intelligent and analytical but introverted and a little bit weird will make many bookish girls resonate with her (or bookish ladies for those of us past our tweens,teens, lets not continue ☺️). However the trait that really stood out for me is how in light of this intelligence she is accepting of supernatural occurrences- this is something that often happens with us bookish dreamers but is something rarely seen in ‘Contemporary’ set books because there is so often a ‘rational until proven otherwise’ mantra.

Luna Lovegoods of the world will delight in Molly Thompson and welcome her to our ranks, though maybe a bit shy to talk to her at first.

‘If Howlfair falls, the whole world falls’

As stated there is a hint of the best sides of cult television that readers parents may well be familiar with- Buffy battling with the Hellmouth and Veronica Mars style dogged investigation and a dash of early Supernatural whether the more folksy horror or the focus on rock music – as Eddy the Trooper has an unnamed cameo in this book! But this is eschewing the Hollywood glamour, it’s a more earthy, down to earth British kind of production.

And I hope my picking out of those references actually come across as strengths (and indeed positives for parents) rather than just ‘it’s like’ because these comparisons are made out of respect and love for how Tomlinson has captured the magic and feel of these shows but weaves into his own unique narrative to inspire new stories and new associations.

‘I’m going to teach you something about Ghouls, Molly Thompson. And something about our Town’

This book has a fantastic quality of being a tale full of warmth and mystery yet equally being deliciously creepy.

This is a book I would certainly pair with Samuel J Halpin’s The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods but also readers may enjoy the chills of The Switching Hour by Damaris Young and the ghoulish thrills of The True Colours of Coral Glen by Juliette Forrest.

Excellent stuff, and I am thoroughly looking forward to the follow up The Scream of the Silentman out next year!

The Ghouls of Howlfair by Nick Tomlinson is published by Walker Books

Thank you for my copy 💜

4 thoughts on “The Ghouls of Howlfair- Nick Tomlinson

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