Chris Mould is a popular writer of teen and children's spooky fiction and in this re-issued anthology of short stories called "Dust and Bones" he has created a perfect primer for the whole genre.
The book contains ten ghost short stories, a mixture of retold classics and Mould's own tales varying in length and in scariness. We have "The Bagman's Story" taken from the Pickwick Papers with its Dickensian cosy good-heartedness, a pirate-treasure thrill of "Aboard the Armadillo" and perhaps the most clasically ghostly story of walking effigies by Edith Nesbit "Man-Size in Marble" as well as "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" that has only a pretend ghost and Poe's chiling account of madness "The Tell-Tale Heart". The shortest and to me, undoubtedly the scariest is "The Bedtime Tale", barely two pages of sheer horror.
Altogether, it's a very good selection, and the generously laid-out hardback edition does justice to Mould's rich, confident, dynamic artwork that mixes cartoonish humour with a bit of spooky horror.
The age that "Dust and Bones" is suitable for depends entirely on your child's susceptibility to being scared by, well, scary stuff. Most 6-7 year olds would be able to understand most of the tales (apart from the Poe one, whose distinct whiff of insanity was more disturbing to this adult reader than the sulphur and mustiness of the others), but it would take a rather resilient or unimaginative 6 year old not to be disturbed. I would say, 8-10 years old onwards, and probably, on average, more for boys than girls. As the stories are short and illustrations plentiful, but the subject matter and style not particularly childish, it could be an excellent book for a reluctant reader.
96 pages hardback, Hodder Children's Books 18 Oct 2007
From about £6+postage new on Amazon.
This book of ghost stories will send shivers down your spine! It contains ten tales, five retold classic ghost stories and five original ghost stories by Chris Mould. Illustrated throughout in colour and black and white. The contents include: "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving, "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allen Poe, "Man-Size in Marble" by Edith Nesbit, "The Bagman's Story" by Charles Dickens, "The Phantom Coach" by Amelia B Edwards, And by Chris Mould: "A Bedtime Tale", "The Stranger", "By the Fireside", "Aboard the Armadillo", and "The Very Last Train".