Castle Librarian

Barnaby Grimes: The Curse of the Night Wolf

In Book Review on June 8, 2012 at 3:37 pm

I spent an evening sitting in a medical clinic waiting room, waiting, and managed to read the entire Barnaby Grimes: Curse of the Night Wolf by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell (Corgi 2008). I had purchased this book in order to prescreen it for my students and library. They want to read horror, but supernatural creatures and magic are dangerous territory when it comes to school libraries, especially in an Arab culture. This makes it hard to find books to interest them without crossing the “culturally appropriate” line.

I won’t be adding this book to the library collection, but not because of supernatural creatures. The language is much too high and difficult for my English as a second language learners. Combine that with the fact that even I had trouble dragging myself through the first few chapters. There was far too much complex description of the setting without dialog or action. Eventually, things start to move and the story picks up. However, the only mystery in this book is when will the main character figure out what is happening, because the writer dishes it up in obviousness and the reader can’t help but know what is coming next.

Spoiler alert! I’m about to describe the villain’s plan… I’m a little concerned about  the nature of the villain’s actions. Dr. Cadwallader is using an exlixir to turn people into werewolves and then kill them for their pelts. This is a very capitalistic serial killer. I don’t read much horror, okay, I don’t read any horror, so maybe this is common faire these days. When I think back to Poe, Stevensen, and Shelley, horror wasn’t this sociopathic.   The Tale Tell Heart and The Black Cat by Poe were about crimes of passion. Mr. Hyde was a bad guy with no conscience, but he was more like an “id” on the run with no “ego” or “superego” to hold him back than a serial killer. Frankenstein’s monster was striking back at rejection he didn’t deserve.  I’ll be reading more horror as we go along, so perhaps I’ll find this is normal or just one of many different stories.


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