Okay, I know I had said that I was going to try and read some more boy-oriented or gender-neutral type books for my next reviews but I started reading Grim Hill: The Forgotten Secret by Linda DeMeulemeester (ISBN: 9781897550137, Lobster Press, 2009)and there was a Valentine’s Day Dance and some of the girls wanted certain boys to notice them but they weren’t, what were they going to wear to the dance, the discovery of a perfect one-of-a-kind dress by heroine Cat Peters, the appearance of a new impeccably dressed but mysterious new girl in school and, a past history with fairies, well…..I just couldn’t help myself!
I lapped up this book like a cold glass of water on these hot, muggy days. One gulp and it was gone!
The good news for my desire to widen my focus is this book is also a delightfully sinister tale with twists and turns. So, I think this book would appeal to most 9 to 12 year olds, whatever gender they happen to be. (Honestly some boys might not get past the dancing, dresses and dates bits but I think a lot could still get into this book/series. Even Harry Potter had a love interest right?)
Cat Peters is a cool character, she’s courageous, loves soccer but also has a keen eye for what makes a fetching frock (my kind of gal!) She also isn’t opposed to being resourceful whether it’s working hard and saving for her perfect dress or saving her new town, Grim Hill, from the occasional attack of the supernatural. As any thirteen-year-old gal, Cat has some stuff to muddle through: friends, adjusting to a new life after her parent’s divorce, getting the soccer team to work together, keeping her sister out of magic-trouble, oh and trying to figure out what’s going on in Grim Hill!
Curiously, she also has amazing self-talk of a teenage character I’ve read and often counsels herself to get past superficial issues like not worrying about what types of clothes she wears and empathizing with new student Lea.
Utterly charming are Sookie, her scene-stealing magically-inclined little sister; best friend, the poetic Jasper and her arch rival and, I predict (you heard it here first!), future love interest Clive(Cat and Clive remind me of an Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe dyad so I won’t be surprised, let’s just put it that way! )
This story is high on entertainment value but I also discovered that I, like Cat, was able to learn something in the end: magic seeps in when you are vulnerable and wishing for the way things used/ought to be instead of embracing the way things are is the way you lose sight of what’s most important.
No wonder this series has won many awards and after reading this third book in the series, I am positively hooked (perhaps under the books charms?) I’m going to have to read them all!
DeMeulemeester is not just a storyteller she is a magician who can conjure up a world that even any Hogwarts alumni would want to visit. This tale is wonderfully creepy and I felt the winds howl, the tree branches scratch against the rooftops and the hairs on the back of my neck rise. Living in Grim Hill is not for the faint of heart!
DeMeulemeester credits her grandmother for instilling in her a love of scary stories and this talent must be passed down in their gene pool or something because she really is a master of the spooky! Growing up and living and in the foggy misty lower mainland of British Columbia has also helped DeMeulemeester is creating the mystical and aptly named Grim Hill (also think of where the Twilight movies were filmed!)
She is also a mother, teacher and lives in an old kind of creaky house (talk about really writing from a place of authenticity!) Her works also include some non-fiction short stories and short fiction.
The Secret of Grim Hill (Lobster Press, 2007) is DeMeulemeester’s first book and book one of this series. It is also the winner of the 2008 Silver Birch Award (Ontario Reader’s Choice), talk about getting some positive reinforcement out of the gate!
Grim Hill: The Family Secret (Lobster Press, 2010) is the fourth instalment out from Lobster Press, and Cat and her friends go international, will Cat make it to Sweden?!
Check out the Grim Hill website for more details on the books and the brains behind them!
See! You can’t really blame me right? You must be under this book’s charms too!