13 April 2009

Lightning Strikes Series: Freaky/Haunted

Freaky by Sue Whiting

Walker Books. Australian, Junior, Young Adult. Paperback rrp $12.95

Haunted by Lorraine Orman.

Walker Books. Junior, Young Adult. Paperback rrp $12.95

Guest Reviewer Jo Burnell

Get struck by the suspense and the final punch. The main characters in Freaky and Haunted are sent to stay with relatives for the holidays. There’s no prospect of fun where they are going, and things spiral rapidly downwards from there.


Jayden is easy to recognise. He’s the skateboarding enthusiast that goes to your Primary School or boy who lives nearby. He is always dramatic and builds suspense when telling any story. If anyone is going to have an uncomfortably close encounter with a giant cactus, it will be Jayden. I can almost see the glint in his eye as he lines up to try out a new skateboarding trick. If Jayden is involved, everything will go wrong. It’s just a matter of time.

But, Freaky is about more than a boy’s everyday calamities. The cactus incident is where the drama begins. From here, it just gets freakier. This book compels the reader to keep turning pages. Chapters are short with enough hooks to lead to a read-in-one-sitting.

Hey, I’m an adult, but I still couldn’t put the book down. I kept wondering, ‘but what have spiders got to do with anything?’ It didn’t take long to find out.

This book is perfect for kids (and adults) who like to scare the bejeebers out of themselves, but have a laugh along the way as well.


Haunted might be seen as the girls’ version of Freaky, but I reckon boys and girls will love both books. Georgia has the usual problems. The boys are being painful, banding together and leaving her out. She wanders around the farm alone while her brother hooks up with the annoying cousin, Jeff. Finding a new friend in the abandoned farmhouse makes the holiday seem brighter, but there’s something not quite right. Things get complicated. And dangerous. I get freaked all over again.

Walker Books have found the perfect pitch for 8 to 12 year old girls and boys with the Lightning Strike Series. The main voices in each story are just like the kids in our street. Their tales are spine tingling, but believable. That’s why they are so creepy. Younger readers might be lured, but the regular spattering of more complex vocabulary should put them off. I’d stall giving these books to those inclined towards nightmares...

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