The Haunting of Drearcliff Grange School by Kim Newman
Titan Books (October 2018)
400 pages; $10.37 paperback; $6.15 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms
Kim Newman has an extensive resume that goes far beyond his Anno Dracula — but YA fiction? Gothic young adult fiction? Newman nails this genre in a fascinating story that will recall both Harry Potter and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children in a novel that sets itself apart from the others in style and characters.
This is the second in a series but the first does not need to be read to follow this novel. Newman does a great job in giving backstory without overloading the reader with needless information dumping.
Drearcliff Grange School is a place similar to Hogwarts, yet exceedingly different at the same time. The students there are descendants of those with superpowers, both heroes and villains, with training of all sorts. Amy Thomsett (Kentish Glory) is a fine protagonist that is bit more Sherlock Holmes than Harry Potter, despite basically having some disturbing talents: dipping into other dimensions, phantom limbs that can do all sorts of odd things, and other strange feats. She’s off to compete in the Great Game, an academic and devious contest that’s far more interesting than Quidditch. In her quest to collect quirky objects from around London, she comes into contact with an evil doll that makes life a living hell for her.
Newman adds in bundles of Easter eggs referencing pop and literary culture that are a treat to read, and writes in a style that’s both gothic and young adult, proving the two can coexist in an engaging story. It’s not the simplest read, but that’s not a bad thing. For young readers who enjoy challenges in their darkness and adults who want more from crossover YA horror, this is a fine addition.