Whispers in the Graveyard by Theresa Breslin

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I often find it hard to review books that are written for children, mainly because I feel that they were not written for me. I think that I can judge them too harshly because I bring my adult reading experiences to them and expect more than can be expected from something written for someone 20 years younger than me.

Oddly enough, this is a book that was published when I was a child (11 years old in fact, more-or-less the age this story is aimed at) and yet I only really discovered it a couple of weeks ago when searching through the kindle app for something interesting to read quickly.

It tells the story of Solomon, who finds school frustrating, home impossible to deal with, so he often hides out near a rowan tree in the Graveyard. That is, until the tree is uprooted in an effort to move some of the graves and redirect the river… and then some things that should have been left buried are uncovered with deadly consequences.

This was an alright book; the plot kept me moving forward and there were a few appropriately spooky moments. However, the book just didn’t seem to know what it wanted to be. A comment on the struggles of dyslexia? A ghost story? An exploration of having to live with an alcoholic father? A story about witchcraft? It felt as though the author could have picked a few less issues to deal with and focused a little more on one clear path for the story.

As I said though, perhaps I am being a little unfair to a story where I am not the intended reader: I’m sure most children would really enjoy the scary storyline and build up of tension as the plot progresses.

The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

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What if you’d made a different decision at a key point in your life? Would everything be different?

Yes, it’s all very sliding doors, or sci-fi in nature, the idea of parallel worlds where the slightest action can send events spinning in a very different direction. The Versions of Us actually tells a much more everyday story of Eva and Jim, whose lives intersect in three very different ways, told in three different ‘versions’ of the story throughout the novel.

I liked the premise of this novel but found the reality of it a little disappointing – for a start it felt as if very little ‘happened’. I’d have liked a little more action or drama (or maybe even an exciting twist) thrown in to keep up the excitement level, which I felt was lacking. I felt as if I was plodding my way through the story; very little of it actually drew me on.

My other chief complaint is probably an inevitability of the three – part storyline. I often lost track of which one I was in, having to spend a good deal of time remembering which ‘version’ I was on, and what had actually happened in that version.

Overall, a bit of a disappointment.