Barrington Stoke are really leading the way in publishing accessible and exciting fiction for young readers, some who may be dyslexic or have difficulties reading. Tom Palmer, Anthony McGowan and soon Vashti Hardy are leading the charge. Now Dan Smith, whose 'She Wolf' was one of my fave MG books last year, has written 'The Invasion of Crooked Oak'. It is a tremendously fun, weird and pacy read, and sure to be enjoyed by even the most reluctant of readers. I loved it!
Nancy's parents are acting very strangely. Since they returned from the local fracking site they've had peculiar eyes, carry a funny smell and don't seem to be eating properly. As Nancy's friends, Krish and Pete, help to investigate they discover that something very disturbing is taking over Crooked Oak. Prepare bicycles, water guns, and hold your breath....!
Although this book is very short, it packs a real punch. This feels like a magnificent episode of the Twilight Zone or Doctor Who (without the Doctor) - one that stays with you for being so eerily strange it gives you goosebumps. In sparse, tight prose Dan Smith creates oodles of atmosphere with tension that ramps up until it's action-packed finale. The plot is wonderfully weird but also so satisfying, as we see our trio of characters face off invasion with mould spray and super-soakers. Ingenious! And such a riot!
What also makes this book appealing to reluctant readers is the off-white pages (to help dyslexic readers) and the absolutely fabulous graphic-style illustrations by Chris King that will provoke gasps and much admiration.
If you love Stranger Things, the Twilight Zone and pacy horrors, this is one worthy of your attention. 'The Invasion of Crooked Oak' raises the bar again for the kind of short, brilliant fiction that Barrington Stoke are publishing at the moment. Great stuff!