Beatrice Beecham’s Houseful of Horrors by Dave Jeffery is a little bit of a conundrum for me, sort of a no man’s land of fiction. My assumption is that this is some level of children’s book, but I can’t discern what kid would like this book. It doesn’t have a multi sensory experience or a wildly engaging story. It is a very low energy read that I don’t feel would appeal to many kids in this age that offers a plethora of wonderful choices..
Beatrice Beecham is a sleuthy high school girl with a group of friends referred to as the Newshounds. The team investigates paranormal phenomenon in the small town of Dorsal Fin. This book features four short stories of their adventures. The only one that I enjoyed was the first one, Halloween Haunting, and I really loved it. The rest of the stories were unremarkable. The pages are peppered with references to pop culture and history that seem more aimed at adults.
Beatrice is known for her culinary interest and skill, but her love of cooking is lost one me when she has conversations with a group of celebrity chefs in her head. The result of these mental meetings is that she gains some insight, but again, kids won't know the chefs and probably won't read much longer.
Halloween Haunting has several vivid elderly characters that enthralled me in a story that kids would have little interest in. However, the folksy description of everything got in the way of the plot at times. The emotional energy of the elderly protagonists was beautiful and created great tension. Then I was utterly disappointed by the abrupt, unsatisfying ending. I would love to see this story retooled for adults.
Perhaps Beatrice’s other books are a different story entirely, but Houseful of Horrors gets two severed heads. Since it is aimed at younger people, they are stuffed and cute.
Heads Will Roll,