The debut ‘Ghouls of Howlfair’ by Nick Tomlinson is the first in the Howlfair series and what an opener! Demons, spectral shadows, warnings written in what looks like blood and a young investigator called Molly who loves BOOKS? Molly Thompson, welcome to the book shop shelf. You are an absolute treasure!
“Secrets like to hide underneath fears.”
Twelve-year old historian Molly Thompson lives in Excelsior Guesthouse, Howlfair, a place where mystery lies. It is the perfect place for an inquisitive girl who chases vampires and ghosts armed with a notebook, a camera and a fishing net close at hand. To balance her serious nature, her slightly quirky ways and the humourous tone of the book make Molly adorable. We are right behind her plight to uncover secrets and record strange goings-on in order to seek justice. But her delving into places she isn’t welcome is causing consternation with the neighbours who organise a petition for Molly’s mother to put a stop to it. What secrets are hidden in Howlfair? What lengths will someone go to in order to protect them? And why does Molly’s mother padlock cupboards and insist Molly keeps out of the attic?
The life of an investigator can be a lonely one and Molly is lucky to own a peculiar cat called Gabriel to keep her company. Her dear but scatty friend, Lowry, is never far and full of advice, but is concerned she may have inherited a wolf-gene. Molly, of course, is happy to research in between more pressing matters. A bookworm, she even reads whilst walking (we love this as one of us does too!) and is even on duty in her sleep. Her vivid dreams often provide clues she cannot seem to ignore.
“Maybe my dad knew that something scary was going on in this town.
Maybe whatever was frightening Mrs Fullsway has been frightening people in the past.”
One night Molly’s dream concerns a writer whose heart stops beating while staying at Molly’s guesthouse. Something about her death seems familiar to Molly. Something connected with her own father’s death which Molly has never been able to get to the bottom of. When Molly encounters a white-clad ghoul floating above her in the graveyard she realises that everyone in Howlfair is under suspicion. If she is to uncover the truth about the deaths, no turn must lie unturned.
Not only was this book released in time for Halloween, but making it even more topical, an election has been called around the time of the Blue Moon! As candidates canvas to become Mayor of Howlfair what effects might this have on Molly’s research? Will Lawrence de Ville be re-elected? Will Barry U-Bend Parrott stand a chance? Or will thin-lipped Benton Furlock with his scooped-out caverns for eye sockets and a ‘tar-thick tone’ achieve the dream he is so desperate for?
“Follow the fear and you’ll find the secret.”
If you hold fear about writing for children yourself and want to uncover the secret to improving techniques such as ‘show and tell’ and injecting humour, look no further. In Howlfair you’ll find a stair that ‘voiced a musical croak’, a cloudy sky where ‘the moon had struggled free’ and ‘the sun, an orange egg yolk in a white of fluffy clouds.’Even nemesis Felicity Quick is “wearing cheerful socks that clashed with her personality.” You’ll be howling with laughter throughout. Author Nick Tomlinson has created a masterpiece with the Howlfair series. The writing really does fill you with a sense of wonder. An inspiration to anyone writing middle grade fiction and a joy for any reader to disappear into.
We highly recommend the spooky mysteries of Howlfair and cannot WAIT for Molly to return.