Clara is a lonely only child growing up in a grief-filled house. Her parents are overwhelmed with sadness after the deaths of all of brothers and sisters. Not just one. ALL of them. Every holiday, every Sunday even, the family walks to the cemetery and remembers “the Others”. It’s very hard for Clara to have so many days of her life taken up with mourning. And it isn’t that she doesn’t miss her brothers and sisters. She does. But she is having trouble figuring out how to LIVE now that they are gone.
For her 12th birthday Clara begs to have a puppet show. She longs for something fun because there is just so much sadness in her house. She pleads. She cries. She gets her way! And when Grisini and his assistants, two orphans named Lizzie Rose and Parsefall, come to perform they are SO good the show seems like MAGIC! It’s like the marionettes have no strings. They move just like people!
When Clara disappears after the puppet show Grisini is suspect #1, but no one can find him. Lizzie Rose and Parsefal can’t even find him…but they do notice a new puppet, one that looks really, really familiar. Can you guess where this is going? Lizzie Rose and Parsefal are tough and street wise and know how to take care of business, even when the business gets a little creepy. And in this book, it sure DOES.
Lizzie Rose and Parsefal follow this mystery to a creepy old country house as well as the creepy old lady who lives there. Again, I mean CREEPY. They need to be brave and smart and resourceful. They also have to know how to be a good friend. Author: Laura Amy Schlitz
This is a great read for lovers of Coraline or The Graveyard Book. Spooky. Spooky wonderful! It has a creepy old mansion like The Secret Garden, and ghostly characters like The Aviary and The Shadows. If you like to read stories with just a little bit of shiver in them…try Splendors & Glooms or one of these:
Otto, Lucia and Max are the Hardscrabbles. They’ll remind you of three kids you might already know…Violet, Klaus and Sunny Boudelaire from A Series of Unfortunate Events. The Hardscrabbles have had a rough life too – like the Boudelaire’s they have to take care of each other, because nobody else is really doing it for them.
The Hardscrabble’s mother has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Otto hasn’t spoken a word since and wears a scarf wrapped around his neck everyday, no matter the weather. Their father is around, but distant, travelling all over the world to paint portraits of royals.
Otto uses sign language only Lucia and Max can understand, which makes him even more unusual, and the object of suspician. People in thier village think maybe Otto knows more about his mother’s disappearance than he wants to say…so he just refuses to talk at all
Lucia, for her part, is a toughie, I mean, look at that picture on the cover. She’s ready to start a fight and take names later. She’s bored out of her mind by the dullness of her life and longs for some kind of adventure.
And Max, well, Max is a genius. A real one.
The three of them together make quite a team. When their father goes out of town and their babysitting arrangements fall through, the kids decide not to tell their dad, but to set out on an adventure of their own. They track down a long lost Aunt and discover that she lives in a castle that harbors some interesting secrets, Hardscrabble secets, involving a local legend about the Kneebone Boy as well is the answer to their most pressing question, what happened to their mother?
When a story is gloomy and mysterious it is often called “gothic.” These stories often take place in castles or country estates and usually, children are left to cope with the darkness and mystery themselves. If you liked the gothic The Kneebone Boy, try these:
Penelope Lumley, a student at the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, is on her way to a new life. Penelope is old enough to leave the Academy and make a life for herself. She has answered an ad for Governess:
Wanted Immediately: energetic Governess for Three Lively Children Knowledge of French, Latin, History, Etiquette, Drawing, and Music will be Required – Experience with Animals Strongly Preferred.
Once she arrives at the country estate she undergoes a very strange interview and hears some very strange noises that no one wants to explain. In fact, everyone wants to act as if the noises are not happening at all. Weirder still, no one will introduce her to the children.
Penelope is a girl that gets things done. She also knows a noise when she hears one. Not one to stand around when there is something curious to investigate, Penelope follows the strange noises to the barn. In the dim light of the barn she hears something rustling and sees shining eyes in one of the stalls. A small pony maybe? A lamb? A dog? Nope. The shining eyes belong to three children huddled in the dark staring at her with the eyes of wild animals.
Experience with Animals Strongly Preferred. You think! Some kids might act like little wild animals, but these children, well, they really are! Penelope sets out to teach them how to act like little ladies and gentlemen in time for a holiday ball. That means wearing clothes. That means walking upright. That means eating with utensils. That means NOT howling! It also means paying attention to Penelope’s lessons and not being distracted by squirrels. (These kids are a lot like Dug the talking dog in the movie Up “SQUIRREL!”)
A funny look at the trouble one girl takes on when she tries to teach some little wild things how to hobnob in high society. If you like A Series of Unfortunate Events give this one a try. The humor is very similar and the characters just as outrageous. Ahwoooooooooooo! Author: Maryrose Wood
Hector Fitzbaudly leads a privileged life. He lives in a mansion with his father, wears stylish, expensive clothes and goes to the best school. He and his father are free to spend as much time and money as they wish on their magnificent butterfly collection.
One night, Hector’s father receives a mysterious guest…and from that night forward Hector’s life begins to unravel. The mysterious man knows something about Hector’s father. Hector’s father is willing to pay a steep price to keep the man quiet.
The stress of the secret extracts an even bigger price when Hector’s father drops dead from a heart attack and leaves Hector to deal with the fact that their fortune is actually gone. Turned out into the street, Hector sets off on his own. He has nothing…except a burning desire for revenge against the mysterious one-eyed guest that Hector blames for his father’s death and for the loss of his father’s fortune. The one-eyed man might be smart, he might be devious, he might have a sinister plan, but Hector is smart too. He can be devious. He can come up with a plan.
Hector follows the one-eyed man to the home of Lady Mandible. Lady Mandible hires Hector to live at the mansion and raise butterflies, giving Hector the opportunity to sneak around at night hoping to find out more about the one-eyed man. Hector discovers some unsavory information about “Lady” Mandible. She collects all kinds of gruesome art and she paints some pictures herself…with blood!
Creepy enough for you? How about this: her guest, the one-eyed man, well, he collects eyeballs. Glass ones, but still…eyeballs. If you like the deliciously macabre (that means shockingly offensive), then you’ll love reading about Lady Mandible. She’s Cruella DeVil without the puppies, and she’ll stop at nothing to get exactly what she wants.
Hector gets quite a dose of sinister and has to decide what to do with his desire for revenge. Should he play the same game as Lady Mandible and the Eyeball Collector…or is there a sweeter revenge? Author: F.E. Higgins
The Eyeball Collector is a gothic story. That means the mood of it is dark and gloomy; very mysterious with strange events and people. F.E. Higgins wrote The Black Book of Secrets and The Bone Magician & The Eyeball Collector. These are not sequels of each other..but characters and places are shared between all the books. If you like them, try The Wolves of Willoughby Chase or The House With the Clock in its Walls. But read early. With the lights on.