Tag Archives: #Anthony Horowitz

Moonflower Murders – Anthony Horowitz


Penguin Australia

August 2020

ISBN: 9781529124354

Imprint: Century

RRP: $32.99

The Master triumphs again! Mind-bendingly clever and tricky, Horowitz has once again presented his readers with two devilishly complicated mysteries – once again a book within a book! I can only imagine how difficult it is to construct one complex murder mystery let alone two at the same time!

Susan Ryeland, former editor at Cloverleaf and victim of the nasty plot that killed her obnoxious star author Alan Conway, has been living in Greece with her partner Andreas running, with some difficulty, their hotel. Despite the idyllic setting, the frantic struggle to get the hotel on its feet and the loss of her editorial and bookish connections are making Susan feel frustrated and fretful. Out of the blue the spectre of Alan Conway arises when an English couple visit Susan and ask for her help in resolving the disappearance of their daughter. At first baffled by this, it becomes clear that there may be some connection between Cecily’s disappearance, a murder on the day of her wedding eight years previously and Alan Conway’s Atticus Pund Takes the Case which Susan edited. With Susan’s dissatisfaction with the way things are going in Greece, she needs little prompting to take on the amateur investigation especially as there is a very generous remuneration on offer. The hotel badly needs an injection of funds just as Susan badly needs a small reprieve from the daily grind.

Given the phone call Cecily made to her parents just the day before she disappeared, it is very clear that some clues to the truth of the murder and therefore her disappearance must lie within Conway’s book and Susan is determined to uncover the facts and vindicate a wrongly convicted suspect. Naturally the twisting and turning plot provides much fodder for us armchair sleuths with suspicion shifting from one character to another. Susan’s investigation leads her into some very murky places figuratively but she is aided by surprising help from a couple of characters we first met in Magpie Murders.

Tied in with the search for justice is Susan’s conflicting emotions about her relationship with Andreas, brought into focus by her much-loved sister’s marital dilemma.

This is exactly the sort of juicy murder mystery I have always loved and while I can be the most complete dunce in seeing the carefully hidden clues, the unfolding of the complexities is a delight and really, no one does it better than Anthony Horowitz. For one who basically ate up murder mysteries for years, it is just pure joy to become so involved in the cunning and entertaining world AH creates.

It is always such a privilege to review such an extraordinary writer and needless to say this has my highest recommendation. If you love a great mystery you will be glued to this as I was until you reach the shocking conclusion.

Anthony Horowitz display


So I’m putting together a display on Anthony Horowitz to mark the 20th anniversary of Alex Rider, the new AR book Nightshade and the upcoming TV series. When I shared these on Twitter it was quite the thrill to get responses from Anthony himself – thank you!  Feeling just a bit chuffed I have to say – now to finish it off!!

Anthony Horowitz

Replying to

Thank you, Sue. It looks fabulous. Hope you and the children stay safe and well.
4:32 PM · May 12, 2020 from Islington, LondonTwitter for iPad
Sue Warren

Replying to

I’m hoping to make it look even more fabulous! but thank you! – our year 11/12 kids are back (plus little ones in the junior school) after six weeks gone – and very happy to be so. This needs to be finished before the rest of my Sec kiddos get back at the end of next week! 🙂

Anthony Horowitz

They’re lucky to have you!

Clapping hands sign




Nightshade – Anthony Horowitz




Walker Books Australia

April 2020

ISBN: 9781406395877
Imprint: Walker

Australian RRP: $16.99
New Zealand RRP: $18.99

Coming hard on the heels of the 20th anniversary of Alex Rider’s first adventure – Stormbreaker – is even more high-octane heart-pumping tension as Alex plunges deep into a mysterious organisation known as Nightshade.

Once again Alex is an unwilling recruit into MI6’s latest investigation and this time he is in danger right from the get-go as he is sent into the maximum security prison on Gilbratar, impersonating  ruthless killer and terrorist, Julius Grief – his clone from Point Blanc. It’s not just the danger of the mission that puts Alex in peril but the fact that young Grief had made plenty of enemies within the prison walls who would be only too happy to see him on his way to a permanent end.

An MI6 agent has been murdered and two child-assassins, unbelievably, were responsible. Only one of them was captured and it is apparent that he is a boy believed dead in an accident but it seems kidnapped and raised as a human weapon.  It’s Alex’ mission to befriend him and if possible discover more about Nightshade, the organisation behind not just one but many missing children.

Will Alex be able to connect to Freddy – No 9 – and successfully infiltrate Nightshade to discover their plans? Moreover, will he then be able to prevent the loss of life of thousands of people? As usual this 13th thriller-adventure proves Anthony’s power to create an explosive and suspenseful narrative that will thoroughly engage and entertain fans of the original teen spy.

I’ve just bought the entire series in the fabulous newest editions to replace our rather sad-looking ones in our collection and now planning a big bold Alex Rider display for when the kiddos come back to school.

I’m unashamedly both an Alex fan and a Horowitz one and highly recommend this – and the entire series – for your readers from around Year 6 upwards.


Stormbreaker – Anthony Horowitz



Walker Books Australia

March 2020

ISBN: 9781406388589
Imprint: Walker
Australian RRP: $16.99

By chance, when I found out that the new 20th anniversary edition of Stormbreaker was being released I was ‘re-reading’ it on audio during my commute and relishing the pure adrenalin rush that is the hallmark of the series.

Frankly I’d be happy to read Anthony’s shopping list – the man just oozes talent in whichever field he pursues but let’s face it there is something super special about young Alex. It remains one of those series which I can inveigle a reader to pick up for a first read and have that reader come back for a bulk borrow of the rest of the series.

And how extra exciting is it that this anniversary edition heralds another new episode in Alex’ thrilling adventures – Nightshade is coming!

If for some reason you’ve never accompanied Alex on any of his adventures (seriously??) you should know he is a 14 year old schoolboy who is recruited unwillingly by the powers that be following the suspicious death of his guardian Ian Rider to undertake dangerous and potentially deadly missions. In reality the man he always knew as an international banker was in fact a highly skilled secret agent and has trained Alex all his life to be as competent an operative as himself. Now Alex is sent to investigate one Herod Sayle, to all appearances a wealthy and generous benefactor, but in fact one with not only a streak of insanity but a vindictive killer.

Sayle’s plot to unleash a deadly virus on every single one of Britain’s schools via the gift of his new and technologically unsurpassed computer, the Stormbreaker, is what Alex must put a stop to – succeeding in fact where his uncle had failed.

The action doesn’t stop for a second in this roller-coaster introduction to a world into which Alex finds himself so reluctantly dragged but due to the management of his many ‘hobbies’ instigated by his guardian he actually finds himself surprisingly well-prepared.

This is  a series that both boys and girls will grab hold of with gusto, fully immersing them in the non-stop action. Thank you Anthony for 20 years of thrilling adventures with the boy-spy who beats them all!

Highly recommended for readers from around ten years upwards and why not pre-order the newest volume now!

Alex Rider #12 : Secret Weapon – Anthony Horowitz



Walker Books

April 2019

ISBN: 9781406387476
Imprint: Walker

Australian RRP: $16.99
New Zealand RRP: $18.99


I’m pretty certain that I’m not the only one who’s so excited that Anthony has his Alex mojo back J – and with the talk of the forthcoming movie there are bound to be many more readers added to the fold of fans.

In this new volume, seven adventures are recounted – making them perfect read-alouds for book talks or encouraging reluctant readers. I’m finding at present that as many girls as boys are borrowing the series (especially since I bought the new editions with the stunning cover art!). Since this collection includes three brand new adventures it will have as much appeal to existing fans as to those new to the series.

Whether it’s playing the part of assassin unknowingly, having a routine dentist visit turn into something far more sinister or skiing down steep slopes in a frantic attempt to save himself and others, Alex the reluctant spy manages to come out on top, largely thanks to his uncle’s dedication to bringing him up with the skills he would need.

Anthony Horowitz does thrilling suspense so well – as we know not only from his books but also his plethora script writing ventures. I know I’m not alone in my addiction to Midsomer Murders and Foyle’s War!

As an introduction for the next generation of devotees or to add some excitement to your existing AR readers – this is a must have for your collection.


Watch the trailer here.




Never Say Die – Alex Rider



Walker Books Australia

ISBN: 9781406377040
June 1, 2017
Australian RRP: $16.99
New Zealand RRP: $18.99

How absolutely apt that as we mourn the loss of the suavest Bond of them all – vale Sir Roger Moore – the new Alex Rider explodes into our reading lives with every bit of excitement that we have come to anticipate from the teenage spy.

When Anthony said that Alex’ career had come to an end we were all pretty sad. But unexpectedly, three years after what we thought was the last book in the series, the youthful hero is back. Following on from Scorpia Rising and the defeat of the international crime ring, Alex is living in America pretty unhappily, especially as he is still grieving for Jack Starbright, believed killed.

But the world has never had a shortage of villains (as we see so clearly in the news) and from Scorpia’s ashes have risen the Grimaldi brothers – eccentric and evil identical twins every bit worthy of being in an Ian Fleming book. When Alex receives a cryptic line of email he is positive that Jack is still alive and abandons America, his host family and school to find her.

From Egypt to Saint Tropez to a lonely corner of Wales, the action is super-charged and electrifying. Twists and turns abound as we know they will from such a master crime storyteller as the Grimaldis’ ingenious plot is revealed.

While some things have changed  – Mrs Jones is now head of MI6 replacing Alan Blunt – familiar faces are back, like Ben Daniels, Alex’ especial side-kick.

Alex Rider is back: back home, back in MI6 and the thick of espionage, back with his loyal Jack Starbright and back in our reading lists. Bring on some more please Anthony! This is a dose of adrenaline that we all love!

As you are aware there is quite a bit of violence in these but it’s not horribly graphic. I recommend them to my older primary students and upwards.

By the way, the whole series has been re-issued with some very spiffy new ‘dinner jackets’ – you can predict that they are already on my ‘to order’ list!

This one comes with my highest recommendation for thrill-seekers and I eagerly await more from Anthony’s fertile imagination.

It’s Halloween!


What are some of your favourite spooky books? Let me know!

Here are some I have thought of…

Neil Gaiman ( could be a lot really !) but how about

The Graveyard Book

graveyard book

After his family are killed, Bod is brought up in a graveyard by ghosts – an array of century-spanning characters who care for him, impart wisdom and even teach body-fading skills. But Bod sometimes goes beyond the graveyard into the world of the living – and here his life is under threat from the sinister man Jack, who has pursued him since he was a baby.


Bestselling author Neil Gaiman offers up a wonderful story of life, death and coming-of-age in this book, which won the Booktrust Teenage Prize. The fabulously original story is full of humour and surprise and has a brilliantly engaging hero in Bod. Gaiman blends together the poetic, the resonant and the gruesome and Chris Riddell’s illustrations confirm the delicious sense of unsettling people and presences that run throughout.

Publisher: Bloomsbury (http://www.booktrust.org.uk/books/view/29125)



Something nasty lives in Coraline’s house.

It’s nothing to do with Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, the two faded old actresses who live in the ground floor flat with their Highland terriers and their memories of past successes. Nor is it anything to do with Mr Bobo up in the attic, the crazy old man with a big moustache who is training a mouse circus, but won’t let anyone see it

It’s to do with the door in Coraline’s flat, the door that opens onto a blank brick wall:

‘When this place was just one house,’ said Coraline’s mother, ‘that door went somewhere. When they turned the house into flats, they simply bricked it up. The other side is the empty flat on the other side of the house, the one that’s still for sale.’
She shut the door and put the string of keys back on top of the kitchen doorframe.
‘You didn’t lock it,’ said Coraline.
Her mother shrugged. ‘Why should I lock it?’ she asked. ‘It doesn’t go anywhere.’
Coraline didn’t say anything.

But she begins to wonder about it, later, in the middle of the night. Nasty little things begin skittering about, and when she gets up to investigate (bravely), there’s nothing there … except that door is now ever so slightly open. Just a crack.

Still, how could anything come through the door when there’s a brick wall behind it?

Depends what you’re up against, doesn’t it.

The other mother sat down on the big sofa. She picked up a brown handbag from beside the sofa, and took out a white, rustling, paper bag from inside it.
She extended the hand with the paper bag in it to Coraline. ‘Would you like one?’ she asked politely?
Expecting it to be a toffee or a butterscotch ball, Coraline looked down. The bag was half-filled with large shiny blackbeetles, crawling over each other in their efforts to get out of the bag.
‘No,’ said Coraline. ‘I don’t want one.’
‘Suit yourself,’ said her other mother. She carefully picked out a particularly large and black beetle, pulled off its legs (which she dropped, neatly, into a big glass ashtray on the small table beside the sofa), and popped the beetle into her mouth. She crunched it happily.
‘Yum,’ she said, and took another.
‘You’re sick,’ said Coraline. ‘Sick and evil and weird.’

It’s a brilliant book, moving inexorably from the deliciously creepy to crawling fear up the back of your spine. It was the buttons, though, that really did it for me! If you want to know, you’ll have to read it … not just for children.

Earnestly recommended! (http://www.readingmatters.co.uk/review/coraline)

Anthony Horowitz (again, lots to choose from!)

Horowitz Horror and More Horowitz Horror

horowitz horror

It was typical of my dad to want to stop and offer the man a lift and just as typical of my mum to want to drive on. In the back seat, I said, ‘Don’t stop, Dad.’ But it was already too late. Just fifteen seconds had passed since we saw the hitchhiker and already we were slowing down. I’d told him not to stop. But I’d no sooner said it than we did.
The rain was coming down harder now and it was very dark so I couldn’t see very much of the man. He seemed quite large, towering over the car. He had long hair, hanging down over his eyes.
My father pressed the button that lowered the window. ‘Where are you going?’ he asked.
Ipswich was about twenty miles away. My mother didn’t say anything. I could tell she was uncomfortable.
‘You were heading there on foot?’ my father asked.
‘My car’s broken down.’
‘Well – we’re heading that way. We can give you a lift.’
‘John…’ My mother spoke my father’s name quietly but already it was too late. The damage was done.
‘Thanks,’ the man said. He opened the back door.
I suppose I’d better explain.
The A12 is a long, dark, anonymous road that often goes through empty countryside with no buildings in sight. It was like that where we were now. There were no street lights. Pulled in on the hard shoulder, we must have been practically invisible to the other traffic rushing past. It was the one place in the world where you’d have to be crazy to pick up a stranger.
Because, you see, everyone knows about Fairfields. It’s a big, ugly building not far from Woodbridge, surrounded by a wall that’s fifteen metres high with spikes along the top and metal gates that open electrically. The name is quite new. It used to be called the East Suffolk Maximum Security Prison for the Criminally Insane. And right now we were only about ten miles away from it.
That’s the point I’m trying to make. When you’re ten miles away from a lunatic asylum, you don’t stop in the dark to pick up someone you’ve never met. You have to say to yourself that maybe, just maybe, there could have been a break-out that night. Maybe one of the loonies has cut the throat of the guard at the gate and slipped out into the night. And so it doesn’t matter if it’s raining. It doesn’t even matter if the local nuclear power station at Sizewell has just blown up and it’s coming down radioactive slush. You just don’t stop.
The back door slammed shut. The man eased himself into the back seat, rain water glistening on his jacket. The car drove forward again.
I looked at him, trying to make out his features in the half light. He had a long face with a square chin and small, narrow eyes. His skin was pale, as if he hadn’t been outdoors in a while. His hair was somewhere between brown and grey, hanging down in clumps. His clothes looked old and second-hand. A sports jacket and baggy corduroys. The sort of clothes a gardener might wear. His fingers were unusually long. One hand was resting on his thigh and his fingers reached all the way to his knee.
‘Have you been out for the day?’ he asked.
‘Yes.’ My father knew he had annoyed my mother and he was determined to be cheerful and chatty, to show that he wasn’t ashamed of what he’d done. ‘We’ve been in Southwold. It’s a beautiful place.’
‘Oh yes.’ He glanced at me and I saw that he had a scar running over his eye. It began on his forehead and ended on his cheek and it seemed to have pushed the eye a little to one side. It wasn’t quite level with the other one.
‘Do you know Southwold?’ my father asked.
‘So where have you come from today?’
The man thought for a moment. ‘I broke down near Lowestoft,’ he said and somehow I knew he was lying. For a start, Lowestoft was a long way away, right on the border with Norfolk. If he’d broken down there, how could he have managed to get all the way to Southwold? And why bother? It would have been easier to jump on a train and go straight to Ipswich. I opened my mouth to say something but the man looked at me again, more sharply this time. Maybe I was imagining it but he could have been warning me. Don’t say anything. Don’t ask any difficult questions.
‘What’s your name?’ my mother asked. I don’t know why she wanted to know.
‘Rellik,’ he said. ‘Ian Rellik.’ He smiled slowly. ‘This your son in the back?’
‘Yes. That’s Jacob. He’s fifteen today.’
‘His birthday?’ The man uncurled his hand and held it out to me. ‘Happy birthday, Jacob.’
‘Thank you.’ I took the hand. It was like holding a dead fish. At the same time I glanced down and saw that his sleeve had pulled back exposing his wrist. There was something glistening on his skin and it wasn’t rain water. It was dark red, trickling down all the way to the edge of his hand, rising over the fleshy part of his thumb.
Whose blood? His own?
He pulled his hand away, hiding it behind him. He knew I had seen it. Maybe he wanted me to.
We drove on. A cloud must have burst because it was really lashing down. You could hear the rain thumping on the car roof and the windscreen wipers were having to work hard to sweep it aside. I couldn’t believe we’d been walking on the beach only a few hours before.
‘Lucky we got in,’ my mother said, reading my mind.
‘It’s bad,’ my father said.
‘It’s hell,’ the man muttered. Hell. It was a strange choice of word. He shifted in his seat. ‘What do you do?’ he asked.
‘I’m a dentist.’
‘Really? I haven’t seen a dentist…not for a long time.’ He ran his tongue over his teeth. The tongue was pink and wet. The teeth were yellow and uneven. I guessed he hadn’t cleaned them in a while.
‘You should go twice a year,’ my father said.
‘You’re right. I should.’
There was a rumble of thunder and at that exact moment the man turned to me and mouthed two words. He didn’t say them. He just mouthed them, making sure my parents couldn’t see.
‘You’re dead.’
I stared at him, completely shaken. At first I thought I must have misunderstood him. Maybe he had said something else and the words had got lost in the thunderclap. But then he nodded slowly, telling me that I wasn’t wrong. That’s what he’d said. And that’s what he meant.
I felt every bone in my body turn to jelly. That thing about the asylum. When we’d stopped and picked up the hitchhiker, I hadn’t really believed that he was a madman who’d just escaped. Often you get scared by things but you can still tell yourself that it’s just your imagination, that you’re being stupid. And after all, there are lots of stories about escaped lunatics and none of them are ever true. But now I wasn’t so sure. Had I imagined it? Had he said something else? You’re dead. I thought back, picturing the movement of his lips. He’d said it all right.
We were doing about forty miles per hour, punching through the rain. I turned away, trying to ignore the man on the seat beside me. Mr Rellik. There was something strange about that name and without really thinking I found myself writing it on the window, using the tip of my finger.
  RELLIK  The letters, formed out of the condensation inside the car, hung there for a moment. Then the two ‘l’s in the middle began to run. It reminded me of blood. The name sounded Hungarian or something. It made me think of someone in Dracula.
‘Where do you want us to drop you?’ my mother asked.
‘Anywhere,’ Mr Rellik said.
‘Where do you live in Ipswich?’
There was a pause. ‘Blade Street,’ he said.
‘Blade Street? I don’t think I know it.’
‘It’s near the centre.’
My mother knew every street in Ipswich. She lived there for ten years before she married my father. But she had never heard of Blade Street. And why had the hitchhiker paused before he answered her question? Had he been making it up?
The thunder rolled over us a second time.
‘I’m going to kill you,’ Mr Rellik said.
But he said it so quietly that only I heard and this time I knew for certain. He was mad. He had escaped from Fairfields. We had picked him up in the middle of nowhere and he was going to kill us all. I leant forward, trying to catch my parents’ eyes. And that was when I happened to look into the driver’s mirror. That was when I saw the word that I had written on the window just a few moments before.


  But reflected in the mirror it said something else. KILLER

More Horrowitz Horror © Anthony Horowitz 2000. Published by Orchard Books.


Jonathan Stroud – The Lockwood & Co Series – new episode #2

The Whispering Skull has just been published.

The Screaming Staircase – I reviewed this last September.

The Owl Service – Alan Garner


I loved Alan Garner when I was a child and this one I found particularly spooky.

The Owl Service tells the story of Alison, Roger and Huw who discover a mysterious dinner service in the loft. This is only the first of the strange events and happenings that lead to the old Welsh legend of Blouedd (who was made of flowers and then turned into an owl after she killed her husband).

Bottom of Form

I have to admit the plot was very gripping and slightly creepy (such as when Huw finds Alison in the forest making owls and then being chased by mysterious flames), but was let down by the way Garner linked the events together.

My favourite of these events was during the storm when the plaster on the walls of the house starts to crack and reveals the portrait of a beautiful woman surrounded by flowers made of birds claws; one of the most creepy parts of the book.

The publishers have named this book a “modern classic” and the snippets of reviews themselves claim the book “builds up tension and comes to wild release in the last few pages”. I disagree with this claim. The book was like a line of gunpowder: exciting and bright throughout but often sizzles out at the end. I do not think this book deserves to be ranked up there with the Phantom Tollbooth, Thomasina and Charmed Life (other books in the “modern classics” range).

I also have a problem with the illustration on page three which depicts one of the plates from the dinner service. It is supposed to make a picture of an owl if the pattern is drawn correctly, but however much I tried I could not make one (if you are going to illustrate a book like this do it right).

Not one of the best reads ever, but take a look anyway. Preferably get it from a library not a bookshop, as you probably won’t read it again.


Der Struwwelpeter


The original scary book for children, Struwwelpeter was one of the first books written explicitly for kids — and it didn’t exactly coddle them. The book consists of cautionary tales for children, who are warned that if they suck their thumbs, a “great tall tailor” will chop said thumbs off with giant scissors. Yikes (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/claire-fallon/9-kids-books-that-terrifi_b_4178249.html)