teenage ghost stories

All posts tagged teenage ghost stories

Short Stories Challenge – The Graveless Doll Of Eric Mutis by Karen Russell from the collection Vampires In The Lemon Grove

Published July 24, 2016 by bibliobeth


What’s The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis all about?:

The final story in Karen Russell’s excellent short story collection focuses on a group of school friends who come across a scarecrow tied to a tree in a park that bears a striking resemblance to a young boy that they used to bully.

What did I think?:

There has been some real corkers of stories (and very few damp squibs!) in Vampires In The Lemon Grove, which was the first thing I’ve read from the author, Karen Russell. Looking back on the collection now I’ve completed it, stand out favourites for me have to include Reeling For The Empire, The Barn At The End Of Our Term and Dougbert Shackleton’s Rules for Antarctic Tailgating so I have to admit, I was expecting great things for the final story. To be honest, I was left feeling slightly disappointed by the ending as I felt the story had SO much more potential and things sort of… well, fizzled out by the end, with no clear indications of what was going to happen.

Generally, this story had a strong sense of Stephen King about it. (If you didn’t know, I’m a huge SK fan and that’s therefore a massive compliment!). The main protagonist is a young boy, part of a gang of friends known locally as Camp Dark – don’t judge them on the name, they designed it when they were much younger. One day in their local hang-out they see something that shocks them to their very core. It’s a scarecrow, tied to a tree. However, this is no ordinary scarecrow, it looks frighteningly familiar and then they figure out that the wax face attached to the scarecrow resembles a young boy that used to attend their school, Eric Mutis whom they nicknamed “Mutant” due to him looking a bit different and suffering from epilepsy. They used to bully this boy mercilessly whilst he was at the school, fists and all, but he’s recently disappeared, never to be seen again – until now.

The scarecrow freaks them all out, especially our main protagonist who seems to be dogged with guilt about the way he treated Eric whilst he was at school with them. Then strangely enough, pieces of the scarecrow start to go missing. At first, the other boys think our protagonist is to blame and he is playing a trick on them but this certainly is not the case. Bit by bit, the scarecrow continues to lose his appendages until just his head is left and each day as this happens, our boy feels more and more scared and regretful of his past actions.

This story had such an interesting premise and I was hooked most of the way through, intrigued to find out exactly what was happening and if the scarecrow had a darker message behind it. It was fast paced and more than a little creepy as the author plays on the reader’s emotions, the mystery of the situation and the darker secret that our protagonist holds that the rest of the gang was completely unaware of. I was however, very disappointed by the ending and did feel it had the potential to finish on a “bang,” rather than fizzle out the way I felt it did. Please don’t let my opinion put you off though – the build up on this story is very intense and what I may have disliked, many other readers may love.

Would I recommend it?:


Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

NEXT SHORT STORY: The Adventure Of The Speckled Band by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes


Hollow Pike – James Dawson

Published July 21, 2014 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

She thought she’d be safe in the country, but you can’t escape your own nightmares, and Lis London dreams repeatedly that someone is trying to kill her. Lis thinks she’s being paranoid – after all who would want to murder her? She doesn’t believe in the local legends of witchcraft. She doesn’t believe that anything bad will really happen to her. You never do, do you? Not until you’re alone in the woods, after dark – and a twig snaps… Hollow Pike – where witchcraft never sleeps.

What did I think?:

This is the sixth book from Chrissi Cupboard month which I completed in June of this year. After reading James Dawson’s other excellent young adult novels, Cruel Summer and Say Her Name, I was eager to read Hollow Pike, which was his debut. I found it to be a stunning read, physically and literally speaking with beautiful cover art and images inside that fit with the theme of this novel perfectly. Our main character is a teenager called Lis London who has suffered from bullying in her previous school and when it opens, is travelling to a town called Hollow Pike, to stay with her sister for a while and attend a new school where she is desperately hoping she can fit in and escape the problems of her past. Despite escaping from her tormentors, Lis is having terrifying nightmares, where she is alone in a forest and someone is trying to hurt her. On arriving in Hollow Pike, it becomes more eerie when she recognises the forest of her nightmares in the small town. Lis also finds out that the town has a history for practising witchcraft in the past, and as she eases into her new school and is integrated into the “popular” crowd, learns of a small group that are ostracised for being a bit “freaky,” and are accused of being witches.

Our heroine hasn’t really got the character to be part of the Mean Girls Brigade however, and finds herself warming to the group on the outside, three friends called Jack, Delilah and Kitty, who accept Lis into their fold when Queen Mean Girl Laura turns on Lis for attracting the attention of Danny, who she is determined to snare for herself. In a pivotal moment in the story, tragedy strikes when some teenage pranks go badly wrong and Lis and her new friends find themselves ensnared in a murder mystery that proves very dangerous for all the teenagers concerned. Lis’s nightmares meanwhile are becoming more vivid and intensely disturbing – could they be a premonition for what is to come? And can Lis find out what exactly is going on in Hollow Pike before those nightmares become a reality?

James Dawson certainly knows how to get into the adolescent mind, and writes a terrific ghost story for young adults that is full of thrills and chills and completely unputdownable. As a debut novel, it is an accomplished piece of writing that I’m certain will be loved by teenagers the world over. It deals with a lot of difficult issues, like sexuality, the damaging effects of bullying on an individual, and the importance of friendship and support. In essence, it is a book that urges you to feel comfortable in your own skin, encouraging individuality, the power we all have to just say “no,” and assurance that we don’t have to follow the crowd like a sheep but can be our own person with our own rights and opinions. I also loved that the author explored the issue of sexuality which I feel is often looked on as a taboo subject in other young adult novels or just not recognised/mentioned. I’m very excited to see what this author does in the future as I’m sure that his talent will capture the hearts and minds of all younger readers.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):