Regulars to the blog will know that I’m a big fan of Jennifer Killick’s funny fiction, so I was intrigued to discover she was turning her hand to something a little bit different in, ‘Crater Lake.’ There’s a huge demand for scary books in school and there seems to be a limited choice in the middle grade market. Hurrah for Jennifer who takes us on a terrifying trip to a year 6 residential, where something very strange and sinister is afoot. It could be the mysterious bloodstained man who tries to stop their coach, or the fact no one seems to be around at the brand-new activity centre when Lance and the rest of his class arrive for the Year 6 school trip, but something is definitely not right at Crater Lake! What follows is a fight for survival that sees five pupils band together to save their classmates from an alien fate far worse than death. But whatever happens, they must Never, Ever fall asleep!
It’s incredibly difficult to write scary stories that will satisfy those children who love to be scared out of their wits but won’t completely traumatise those who like a little scare but Jennifer manages to achieve this. Packed with just the right amount of peril, she sprinkles her distinctive humour throughout, giving a much welcomed twist. There is something very strange and compelling about this story that will have readers devouring it. It is more than just a straightforward horror story, Lance and his friends have to face their fears – as they battle to save their classmates – while overcoming their own personal challenges. I love the group dynamics as they all rally together and use their strengths to overcome the fearsome fiends who are determined to control them. Being pushed to the extremes gives them the courage to be truthful about their lives and allows Lance the freedom to finally tell his friends something that he has been hiding from them. Jennifer always writes so thoughtfully bringing real life issues into her books that reflect the realities of how people live. A brilliant mix of strangeness, silliness and scariness, ‘Crater Lake,’ is another absolute triumph from Jennifer.