In this scary story for children, the humble slug is elevated from gross garden pest to truly terrifying monster!
Alex is miserable since his mum’s job forced them to move to the world’s most boring town: Shiver Point. Despite his mum’s reassurances, there’s no way that Alex is going to make new friends here – not like the ones he had left behind. When something strange in the night sky draws Alex’s attention, he spies a chance to cash in on a new-found meteorite and pay for his mum to take them both back home. He grabs his skateboard and heads to the landing site.
Alex isn’t the only one who has seen the mystery in the sky, though. In fact, a very random group of 12 year-olds have all convened in the forest to see what the mysterious extra-terrestrial object might be. This sparks an accidental introduction of five children who would never even say hi to one another at school. Alex learns that he’s not the only loner in his new school and that his new acquaintances have some interesting and diverse skills and hobbies (that he is extremely grateful for later on!). The reluctant teammates find themselves caught up in a good old-fashioned horror story where things keep getting weirder and weirder, and a daunting sense of unease grows when a string of thefts coincide with a horrible smell coming from the sewers and the presence of unusually large slugs!
Shiver Point is unashamedly generic. Adults in positions of authority are entirely unreliable, for example, and the children are forced to hunt down the cause of all the horror themselves…because there’s no way adults will believe what they say. An 80s and 90s nostalgia (e.g. CDs and The Goonies) complement a contemporary tone that references popular culture throughout. In this way, the book taps into the popular trend for retro monster stories (Stranger Things; Jennifer Killick) and, arguably, lacks originality. Moreover, there is little about the characters that readers won’t find familiar and the ending’s opaque setup for sequels is a little obvious.
However, monsters are properly scary and levels of tension are very well-managed: readers will certainly feel a chill as Alex and his new friends attempt to defeat Shiver Point’s frightening new visitors. It has been quite a few years since Goosebumps and Point Horror filled the bookshelves of young readers; perhaps it is time for a celebration and retelling of such classic kids’ horror.