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The Vanishing of Aveline Jones

Authored by Phil Hickes
Illustrated by Keith Robinson
Published by Usborne

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Poor old Aveline Jones. Not content with haunting and bewitching her, Phil Hickes puts her through a vanishing, the third in the series, which, for me, is her creepiest outing to date.

Let’s start at the beginning – the first page alone features words and phrases such as drowned, deluge, hurling, grim, clenched fists, dark water…the scene is set. Talk about foreshadowing! Aveline is on her way to her Uncle Rowan’s house just before Christmas time, but this is no celebration. Uncle Rowan disappeared many years ago, and Aveline’s mum has had to make the tricky decision to sell his property.

When they finally arrive at Scarbury (a place named not by accident, you suspect), Aveline and her erstwhile companion Harold do a bit of digging into Rowan’s life, discovering a study full of recordings, newspaper cuttings and diary entries that lead them to suspect all is not as it seems.

Further and further down this rabbit hole they fall, reading stories about faeries and local folklore that are unsettling, to say the least. Without wanting to give too much away, Aveline, Harold, and newcomer Sammy end up finding out more about this underworld than they’d like. A Wicker Man-style folk festival, all masks and mystery, reveals itself to be a trick of the faery-folk, leading Aveline and friends further and further into danger. Poor old Aveline Jones.

I can see this book being a brilliant read-aloud in a year 5 or 6 class: it is scary enough not to give nightmares (but it might), it is deeply atmospheric throughout, and it introduces younger readers to a darker, less well-known form of magic. I loved it, but I can’t help but feel sorry for poor old Aveline Jones.