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Children's Literature Reviews
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The call and other stories
Robert Westall.
London ; New York : Viking, 1989.
118 p. ; 23 cm.

Annotations:

Woman and home -- Uncle Otto at Denswick Park -- Warren, Sharon, and Darren -- The badger -- The call -- The red house clock.
Six tales, set in England, in which people engaged in ordinary pursuits attract the attention of supernatural forces.

Reviews:

Susan DeRonne (Booklist, Jan. 1, 1993 (Vol. 89, No. 9))
This collection, which contains several "Twilight Zone"-type stories, will appeal to skilled readers of all ages who enjoy the eerie. The selections are a delicate blend of suspense and a touch of horror. The frequent appearance of British phrases does not detract from the readability but adds to the element of the unfamiliar. The better tales are toward the end of the book, where Westall thoroughly grounds his readers in the rational only to insist that at critical moments they suspend logic in favor of the supernatural. "The Red House Clock" has such a touching human protagonist that it is easy to identify with him and make the leap to the extrahuman interpretation of events that he suggests. In this story, a young village boy becomes expert at repairing clocks and encounters a clock that seems to take on the cause of its deceased owner. "The Call" is the story of a couple staffing a telephone help line on Christmas Eve who receive a plea from a woman long dead. "The Badger" tells of the experience of a hunter driven insane by his prey. Any fan of Rod Serling will find pleasure in these side trips to the supernatural. Category: Older Readers. 1993, Viking, $13. Gr. 7-12.

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1993)
By a fine, dependable British author whose fiction ranges from sf to WW II-set novels (The Kingdom by the Sea, 1991): six stories partaking of the supernatural. A truant is trapped in a house where the ghostly occupant tests his honesty while offering a deadly bargain; the outrage of an architectural historian provokes the mysterious resurgence of stately "Denswick Park," now converted to new homes. "Warren, Sharon and Darren" features a virgin birth of an extraterrestrial, who intriguingly does and doesn't resemble Jesus (he's so embarrassingly precocious that his parents are forced to change his school). "The Badger" rises from the dead to persecute the cruel hunter who killed him. Most interesting: the title story, in which the ghost of a murdered woman seeks companionship by telephone; and the intricately plotted "The Red House Clock," which wreaks vengeance on a truly despicable villain--but through the ironic intervention of the narrator's singularly dour father. Solidly spooky fare--well written and imaginative. 1993, Viking, $13.00. © 1993 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
Accomplished author Westall is in top form with this collection of six spine-tinglers. Readers will be hard put to decide which they enjoy most: the decidedly spooky goings-on or the glimpse into a workaday English life far from the glamour of London. It is, in fact, the mingling of the commonplace with the eerie that gives these stories their clout. In ``Uncle Otto at Denswick Park,'' the visit of an art historian with a passion for the past calls forth period-clad phantoms who do their best to restore the placid lawns of a luxury housing development to their former Georgian splendor. ``Warren, Sharon and Darren'' is the account of an out-of-work couple propelled by the arrival of a changeling son into the upper stratospheres of yuppiedom. An admonitory tale of greed and obsession, ``The Red House Clock'' manages to conjure up the coziness of 1920s village life while revealing its grimmer sides as well. Rich with detail and ingeniously constructed, these stories are as entertaining as they are evocative. Ages 12-up. (Feb.)

Deborah Stevenson (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, January 1993 (Vol. 46, No. 5))
This is how spooky stories should be: "It was as if she had moved out of her tall frail body, into the bricks and mortar, the glass and wood, the very soil itself, poisoning the intruding weeds." Subjects range here from a truant but orderly schoolboy's discovery of a house in disrepair ("Woman and Home"), to a badger's-or some of his friends'-revenge on a poacher ("The Badger"), to a young woman puzzled not only by her prodigious young son, but also by her disappointment with the things she had thought she wanted ("Warren, Sharon and Darren"). Atmosphere is what Westall excels at. He takes loving and enjoyable time to set up a situation, which makes the payoff less a scary punch line than a part of the whole creepy experience, and he varies point of view from story to story. The two best stories, "The Red House Clock" and "The Call," are masterpieces of the genre, with guilt, anger, and revenge overlaying them both; in the first the supernatural influence may be simply the narrator's imagination, but the second is a classic ghost story. This is a writerly collection, filled with British idiom, protagonists, and references, but readers accustomed to transatlantic literary travel won't want to miss the trip to a zone of English twilight. R*--Highly recommended as a book of special distinction. (c) Copyright 1993, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 1993, Viking, 120p, $13.00. Grades 7-12.

Subjects:

Horror tales, English.
Short stories, English.
Occult fiction.
England--Fiction.
Horror stories.
Short stories.
Children's short stories in English, 1945- - Texts
LanguageCall NumberLCCNDewey DecimalISBN/ISSN
English (eng) PZ7.W51953 Cal 1989
92064131 [Fic]
0670824844 : f7.99
9780670824847
9780670824847
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