Christmas Dinner of Souls: devilish, daring and delicious
(Thanks Waterstones Newcastle for once again providing an incredible background to a picture… I love this table!!)
“It’s a dark and lonely Christmas Eve in the dining room of ancient Soul’s College. The kitchen boy, 11-year-old Lewis, has helped prepare a highly unusual meal, made with unrecognisable ingredients, cooked by a mysterious chef. And then the guests arrive … and carnage ensues. They are ex-students of Soul’s College, and they are all completely demented. They demand bottle after bottle of wine, flinging their cutlery and howling like banshees until … silence. The Dean of Soul’s College has arrived, and the evening’s ceremonies must begin.
For this is the annual meeting of a secret club for those who despise children, warmth, happiness, and above all Christmas. Each member must try to outdo the others by telling the most terrible, disgusting story they know.
A spooky, shocking, bloodthirsty alternative to festive cheer that will appeal to, fascinate and delight young readers.”
The lovely Ross had hinted to me a while ago that he was writing a book of short stories so when I heard there was more coming from him, I was excited. For those who have been living under a rock over the past year, Ross is one of my favourite authors – I absolutely adore his books. If you want a good starting point, check out Perijee and Me. I truly believe Perijee was the reason some of my Y4s last year fell in love with reading. We used to read it at the end of every day I was teaching. Those kids ADORED that book and still talk about it now! But anyway… we’re here to talk Christmas Dinner of Souls.
Christmas Dinner of Souls is BRILLIANT. It’s the perfect balance of scary, sometimes teering on the edge of pretty scary, and fun. I loved the premise. I loved the way in which it was written – there are scary short stories interspersed into the overarching story. For me, who isn’t a massive short story lover, it worked perfectly. It was like having a whole host of fright within one pretty scary book.
I must also take a second here to appreciate the illustrations. The incredible David Litchfield (of The Bear and the Piano, and so many others, fame) did the illustrations for this book and he captures the characters so perfectly. (Montgomery and Litchfield is my absolute dream team!)
The main character, Lewis, has been thrust into this situation as he did something wrong, so the Dean of the College is punishing him by making him help at the dinner. I really liked Lewis and I think a lot of kids will like him too. He’s relatable. He wants to get out of there (I mean who wouldn’t?! I sure would!) and tries coming up with plans, but each time his plan is foiled.
There’s this bunch of bonkers characters who get together for Christmas and try to outscare each other – they take turns telling scary stories to the others, accompanying these stories with foods. I properly loved this idea. Some of the foods are GRUESOME, I most certainly wouldn’t like to have to eat them! These characters come in all shapes and sizes, and they’re really likeable. Despite the fact they’re telling these stories (I’ll get on to the stories in a minute!), they’re hilarious and fun. There’s a pretty epic twist which I totally did not see coming at all. Well done Ross, I LOVED it.
Two of the short stories that stand out most to me are The Beast and The Kensington System. When making notes about these two stories the words horrifying and pretty scary were written down. The Kensington System, I think, might be my favourite, most scary short story. It’s pretty dark, but revenge filled: perfect.
This book is on my Perfect MG Books to buy and I think it totally deserves its spot there. It’s so spot on for kids. It would also make a pretty incredible read aloud for class novel time. These short stories could also form the basis for some studies into writing scary stories.
On top of all of this, Ross has created resources to accompany this book. You’ll find them here: clicky click. There’s a whole host of things to look at on Ross’ website, so I recommend going to check it out. While I’m at it, you should probably follow him on twitter too… @mossmontmomery.
Have you read Christmas Dinner of Souls?
Have you got a favourite scary kids book?
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