A Bit of Odd Horror: The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave…

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It’s time for another submission in my personal Oddity Odyssey Challenge and today’s book is an absolute doozy, qualifying for submission in THREE categories – odd title (as you’ll see), odd character (murderous teddy bear) and odd subject matter (is this weak adult horror or vulgarity-laden middle-grade?). If you don’t know anything about the Oddity Odyssey Reading Challenge for 2015, I invite you to click here and find out more. And then join in.

I received a copy of today’s book from the publisher via Netgalley in return for review. I say I “received” it, but as soon as I saw the cover, combined with the spectacularly understated title, I decided I must read it as soon as possible. But let’s crack on. Here’s the blurb from Goodreads for The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave by J. H. Moncrieff.

Sometimes evil looks like a fuzzy teddy bear.Still grieving the untimely death of his dad, ten-year-old Josh Leary is reluctant to accept a well-worn stuffed teddy bear from his new stepfather. He soon learns he was right to be wary. Edgar is no ordinary toy…and he doesn’t like being rejected. When Josh banishes him to the closet, terrible things begin to happen.Desperate to be rid of the bear, Josh engages the help of a friend. As the boys’ efforts rebound on them with horrifying results, Josh is forced to accept the truth—Edgar will always get even.

bear who wouldn't leave

 

Check that cover. Isn’t it just brilliant? And the title: absolute gold. While this book isn’t going to be winning any awards for the quality of the writing or, indeed, the scariness of the horror, it is a fun, light read that will scratch an itch if you’re in need of a bit of quirky creepiness.

I had a bit of a problem situating this story in my mind though. It’s listed as “adult horror” but features a ten-year-old main character and reads (despite some ear-blistering swear words and a few extreme disciplinary measures) EXACTLY like a middle-grade book. There’s the lovable Josh, who’s dad has died and is just trying to get by with his mum and evil stepfather – and the step-father really is evil in this story; in fact, he’s the most horrifying element of the book by far. There’s the mother who wants to believe her son, but is clouded by a controlling spouse. There’s Josh’s mate Sean who is drawn in to the unbelievable stalkiness of Edgar the murderous panda.

And in the end…well, it’s all a bit predictable really. It’s like the author set out to write a really pedestrian story and then jazzed it up (which I fully appreciate) with an awesome-sauce cover and the title of least resistance.

Once again, I don’t suspect that this is going to satisfy adult readers of horror in any way, but for a fun diversion featuring a fluffy despot who just wants to be loved, you really can’t go past *cue deep movie trailer voiceover * The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave!

Progress toward Oddity Odyssey Challenge Goal:   8 (I think…I’m starting to lose track)/16

Until next time:

Bruce

Bruce’s Reading Round-Up: The “Quick! The Year’s Ending!” Edition…

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Welcome one and all to my pre-Christmas reading round-up! Today’s books run the gamut from charming picture book to sci-fi adult fiction and much in between, so pull on your finest holiday cowboy hat and tinsel-encrusted lasso and let’s round ’em up in ascending order of audience age!

999 Frogs and a Little Brother (Ken Kimura)

999 FrogsTwo Sentence Synopsis:

The littlest frog in the litter (or whatever a bunch of baby frogs is called) is left behind by his siblings.  An encounter with a snake teaches him that family is what you make it.

Muster up the motivation because:

The illustrations in this one make wonderful use of white space and the little characters are too cute for words.  The story is simple for the little ones to follow and shows how blood bonds can come into force when one needs them most.  This is a gentle tale with a heartwarming ending.

Brand it with:

siblinghood, crayfish, safety around snakes

Read my Goodreads review here!

I received a digital copy of this title from the publisher via Netgalley.  999 Frogs and a Little Brother is due for publication in March 2015.

Scarecrows (Berin Tuzlic)

Two Sentence Synopsis:Scarecrows

In a world controlled by fearsome technology scarecrows, a little girl is looking for a friend.  When she finds a boy in danger of being taken by the scarecrows, she knows she has to act fast.

Muster up the motivation because:

This certainly is a unique picture book in everything from concept to art style.  The overall reading experience itself would probably best suit a middle-grade or YA audience due to the complex themes relating to the influence of technology and media on our everyday lives, and in that capacity, the book raises some very discussion-worthy points.  The book is a strange juxtaposition of child-like emotion and worldly manipulation.

Brand it with:

picture books for big kids, technological natives, big brother is watching

Find out more about the book and its successful kickstarter here!

I received a digital copy of this title for review from the publisher, Komic Brew.

Scaedu (Prashant Pinge)

Two Sentence Synopsis:  sceadu

Matilda discovers an old book that shows the way into the world beyond the human shadow.  When she successfully travels to Sceadu, her brother and cousins must also find a way in to save her…and the world they left behind.

Muster up the motivation because:

The story is full of danger, deceit and mythological creatures of sinister motivation.  The world of Sceadu is at once original and familiar, and the story has definite echoes of children’s high fantasy greats like the Narnia chronicles and The Dark is Rising sequence.  If you are looking for a book in which the characters have to find the solutions by making some tough decisions, then the shadow world of Sceadu might be for you.

Brand it with:

Scary shadow play, meddling kids, library cast-offs, mythical mysteries

Read my Goodreads review here!

I received a digital copy of this title for review from the author.

Snail and Boy (Gal Kleinman)

snail and boyTwo Sentence Synopsis:

Boy’s life has been punctuated by war and violence. When he meets Snail, the two work together to live a life filled with peace.

Muster up the motivation because:

This is a little story with a big heart.  The themes explored here are challenging to those of us who live in a world filled with images of violence, and provide the perfect launching point for discussions with young ones about the consequences of violent action.  This story is a very quick read for its intended middle grade/YA audience, but the subject matter provokes thought long after the narrative is finished.

Brand it with:

war and peace, be the change, anthropomorphic snails, ethics in action

Read my Goodreads review here!

I received a copy of this title from the author for review.

Mind the Gap (Tim Richards)

mind the gapTwo Sentence Synopsis:

While riding on the train one day in London, Darius sees some weird stuff go down.  Then he finds himself inexplicably and instantaneously in Melbourne.

Muster up the motivation because:

This is your standard, sci fi, timey-wimey, alternate universe, space jump scenario played out over a number of major cities around the world.  It’s got trains, Egyptian deities, alien hybrid people and judo-fighting baristas, and they all (well, except for the trains) want a piece of Darius because of his mysterious (to him, anyway) power.  This is one for those who like a mystery that has more than one layer of weirdness to it.

Brand it with:

saviour of the universe, tricky talents, you think you’ve had a bad day

Read my Goodreads review here!

I received a digital copy of this title from the publisher via Netgalley.

Had enough yet?  Yes, me too.  We’ve rounded them up, so let’s bring them into the shelf for a cup of tea and a good lie down in preparation for another crazy day tomorrow.

Allow me to wish you all, on behalf of the denizens of the shelf, a relaxing Christmas (whether or not you celebrate the actual event) and an overabundance of bookish gifting.

Until next time,

Bruce