Phil Hickes: The Haunting of Aveline Jones (Usborne Publishing 2020)
Phil Hickes: The Bewitching of Aveline Jones (Usborne Publishing 2021)
Phil Hickes was born in the UK and grew up near Manchester in a house overlooking a graveyard… That explains a lot. As a child, he was always attracted to scary things. He especially liked the books of Alen Garner and Susan Cooper. Because of them, he believed that extraordinary things can happen to ordinary children. This was one of the inspirations for the creepy adventures of Aveline Jones. After the UK, he also lived in Ireland and New Zealand, but finally settled in Oregon with his wife, and on foggy, rainy, pine-scented nights, they listen to the coyotes. In his books, he believes in the mood-creating power of seasons and landscapes.
Aveline Jones is an ordinary twelve-year-old girl who is particularly interested in ghost stories. She lives with her mother in Bristol, who often tells her that sometimes she should read about other things too, because that way she only creates nightmares for herself. October promises to be particularly cold this year. In addition, Aveline has to spend the autumn break in a sleepy seaside town, Malmouth, with her aunt, whom she hardly knows, because her mother has to go to visit her grandmother in Scotland and would rather not take the little girl with her on such a long trip. However, Aveline doesn’t know yet that she won’t be bored, as she finds a new friend and a mystery to solve.
I won’t say more about it, because it’s better to read the less we know about the story. Many people praised the book for how exciting and spooky it was, but no one said how lovely and sad it was. I liked it even better because of these. The characters are lovable one by one and I even understood and felt sorry for the negative character. I couldn’t wait for the next volume.
Next summer, Aveline and her mother spend the end of the summer vacation in a small town near Bristol. The attractions of the place are the Witch Stones, which are Stonehenge-like formations from the Neolithic, whose function is not really understood even today. Here, Aveline is confronted with the fact that not all witches have green skin and fly around on broomsticks. There are even more cunning ones…
The interesting thing about the story is that, although the Witch Stones of Norton Wick are fictional, the folklore and historical aspects related to similar places are true. In the book, we can see the 17th century witch trials and its consequences. I also really liked this story and its bittersweetness was also interesting.
The third volume of the series will be published at the end of the month under the title The Vanishing of Aveline Jones.