Wednesday, January 29, 2014

School of Fear

Written by: Gitty Daneshvari

First line: A bell is not a bell.

Why you should read this: Written with a quasi gothic sensibility (an atmosphere reinforced by illustrations reminiscent of Edward Gorey’s) this middle-grade novel follows the unlikely adventures of a quartet of fearful kids, brought together, some forcibly, at Mrs. Wellington’s School of Fear, for the purpose of learning to overcome their crippling phobias. Miss Wellington is an aging beauty queen who seems to know nothing whatsoever about children, education, or behavioral conditioning, and there are definitely all sorts of questionable secrets hiding in the walls of Summerstone, the crumbling mansion housing the school. Still, hundreds of former students and prominent persons attest to the efficacy of Mrs. Wellington’s unorthodox methods, so the children have no choice but to submit, until tragedy strikes, leaving them on their own, with their fears, and a new mission.

Why you shouldn’t read this book: While it presents as a sort of horror story, it’s really unspeakably silly. The nonsense is almost overwhelming at times.

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