The Wrong Train - Jeremy De Quidt

Genre: Childrens/Horror
Synopsis:  It’s late. Dark. A boy rushes to catch a train, leaping aboard just before it pulls away. Suddenly he realises that it’s the wrong train. He’s annoyed, of course, but not scared. . . . Yet. He gets off at the next station, but the platform’s empty, and it doesn’t look like any station he’s seen before. But he’s still not scared. . . . Yet. Then a stranger arrives - someone with stories to help pass the time. Only these aren’t any old stories. These are nightmares, and they come with a price to pay. . . . Scared yet? You will be.


Review: I was (very kindly) sent a proof copy of this (with no request for a review) from the author, simply because I enjoyed one of his previous books and was apparently 'lovely' about it! I was thrilled, as the one I read (The Toymaker) is indeed an excellent, scary book and I was hoping for more of the same from this one. I will preface this with - I'm not a fan of short stories, generally speaking. Any time I read a collection of them, I come away with very mixed feelings, because I love some, like some, and dislike some, and I never know how to sum up the book. Bearing that in mind - this is a collection of 8 short scary stories linked together (quite loosely) by a broader narrative. But I actually thoroughly enjoyed it. I don't think there were any stories in this book which I actually disliked; my feelings ranged from 'like' to 'love'.

True to his previous work this is a very dark book for younger readers - I wouldn't hand this to a child under 11/12 without being sure they could handle it. But I think that's brilliant! I wish there had been stuff this scary around when I was a kid. That said, this will creep adults out, too. Most of the stories feature a fairly standard horror trope - lights going out, creepy old mansion, haunted/cursed places/objects etc. But De Quidt puts a great spin on them. The second story in particular, read at 1am in the (mostly) dark, which was about a security light repeatedly turning on without electricity, took a turn I did not expect, and left me with as many nerves about lights switched ON, as off! Another favourite was Dead Molly, but I honestly liked them all. The first one was pretty brutal. It wasn't so much creepy as shocking, and it probably disturbed me more than any of the others.

The writing is great, as I expected; not pandering to younger readers any more with easy words than with easy content. The only reason I am knocking off a star is because I would have liked more depth to the narrative linking everything together. This would have worked just as well as a collection of short stories without it. All the same, I wouldn't let that put anyone off reading this, it's well worth it.

Rating: 4/5

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