Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Hell Reviews: Scream Street by Tommy Donbavand.

Synopsis: In Scream Street, Luke and his parents discover a nightmarish world of the undead. Luke soon makes friends with vampire Resus Negative and mummy Cleo Farr, but he remains determined to take his terrified parents home. After liberating the powerful book Tales of Scream Street from his new landlord, Otto Sneer, Luke learns that the founding fathers of the community each left behind a powerful relic. Collecting together all six is his only hope of opening a doorway out of the street, so with the help of Resus and Cleo he sets out to find the first one, the vampire’s fang. But with Otto Sneer determined to thwart him at every turn, will Luke even get past the first hurdle alive?

Sometime in about 2013 I was browsing my local Superbook for anything that would catch my eye and stumbled on this small series called Scream Street.
It wasn’t anything I’d heard of before but the colours of the spines were pretty eye catching, looking at the font I knew it would be for the ages around seven to nine (a trick I picked up when shelving books at work, if in doubt check the font), but I’ve come to learn that sometimes children’s ‘horror’ books are just as good as the adult ones.
So I picked up the first two, Fang of the Vampire and Blood of the Witch, and figured ‘Screw it, I’ll give it a shot,’ at £1.99 each I couldn’t complain if they weren’t to my taste. It also wouldn’t be the first time that I picked up multiple books in a series that I didn’t even know if I was going to like or not, it’s a terrible whim thing I have.
It wasn’t until late spring of 2015 that I finally got around the reading the first book, with it being a fairly large printed book of 160 pages I naturally flew through it and loved every second of it, so I picked up the second one immediately and read that one in about an hour (then had an odd moment where I swore I bought the third one as well and went hunting around my room for it, it goes without saying that I didn’t find it.)
About three days later I bought the boxset of all thirteen books plus the kindle one. It wasn’t until about November of 2015 that I got around to reading this boxset and rekindling my love for it.


1: The story – As mentioned above I love children’s horror books and what’s better than a whole town of horror? Twisted in its ways and going about their normal day whilst thinking the human world is unusual in their practices.
As made evident by the titles each book, which averages between 120-200 pages, focuses on a different aspect and adventure for our main three characters to focus on. Sure sometimes it can seem a little rushed, but for a children’s book series that’s to be expected.
It’s a typical hero story made for easy entertainment and I think it does it well.

2: The content – Despite being a children’s series the content can sometimes seem like it may be a little much for younger readers, but being in my twenties I personally love that it’s only a little toned down.
I have seen people in other reviews saying that it was too much for their children and it scared them, which is fair enough as fear is so subjective, however I personally found it wasn’t too much but also wasn’t too tamed down to the point of having nothing going for it, and considering the whole premise of the series and it ultimately being based in a ‘scary horror’ town it wouldn’t have worked to tame it down further than it was.

3: The illustrations – Scattered throughout the book is a series of illustrations, some are full page ones, some partial page ones and each page has themed pictures from blood splatter to scratches surrounding the writing.
Each chapter starts off with a picture to get you hyped for the upcoming events.
Lily Bernard’s illustrations have a unique, simplistic style that helps paint the scene and the moment without being a distraction as you’re trying to read.

4: The covers – Yes, once again I am raving about the cover of what I’m talking about. Also illustrated by Lily Bernard, the covers seem dominantly black, but this only helps the other colours to spring out from the page and draw your attention to it.
Each book has a different colour theme, which is shown on the spine as the black slowly bleeds into the main colour from top to bottom.
On every book it’s a different scenario involving the antagonist of that particular novel and the three characters in a burst of colour, making it easy to draw in a child’s eyes, so essentially it does its job.

5: Resus Negative – There is a whole magnitude of colourful characters in this series, from Dr Skully the skeleton teacher, Eefa Everwell the witch and Sir Otto Sneer the main antagonist of the series, there is such a wide array of people to take a shining to, but by far my favourite so far has been the vampire Resus Negative.
I seem to have this natural draw to the sarcastic characters and it didn’t take long for him to pick my top spot of favourite character, he’s a character with morals and can understand right from wrong whilst also being a typical young boy.
His design is your typical vampire look with dark hair, pale face and black clothes, but he’s a little different to the other vampires (something I won’t be giving away here.) One thing that sticks him out from the rest is his magical cape of everything, he has a range of things in his cape that range from salt shakers to a picnic table.
He's just one of those characters I could imagine myself being friends with at that age.


1: Plot convenience – With this being a load of books for children it’s natural for large conveniences to litter the plot, it’s part of the progression to push things forward and keep it entertaining for young readers without dragging anything out too long.
This is something that you learn to look over, I understand it’s not a series for my demographic and most kids won’t fully comprehend just how ‘really?’ some of the moments may be.
It’s still a ton better than most of the B-movie clich├ęs I've seen over the years and it's easy to brush off.

I can’t really think of any negatives to say about the books, for novels aimed at children I think it’s one of the better ones. Some of the adult books I’ve read have been worse than this and that’s a great sign to me.
The only other let down I found involved a TV series produced by the CBBC in October of 2015, that’s something I’ll write about some other time.

Would I recommend Scream Street?

Yes, without a moments hesitation.
Adult or child, I think if you like spooky things then this may be a fun read for you.

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