Author Archive for Derelict Space Sheep

The Witches

The Witches by Roald Dahl (Jonathan Cape, 1983); audiobook read by Miranda Richardson (Penguin, 2013) Scary and horrid and yet rather wondrous and fun, Roald Dahl’s take on witches remains a classic of middle grade fiction. Miranda Richardson’s audiobook reading is nicely pitched (notwithstanding her overly grating Grand High Witch and some oddly lacklustre, unnecessary sound effects).    

Ripper Hunter

Ripper Hunter: Abberline and the Whitechapel Murders by M.J. Trow (Pen and Sword, 2012); audiobook read by Terry Wale (Soundings, 2013) An ambitious attempt to biographize Inspector Frederick Abberline – a prominent figure in Jack the Ripper fiction but about whom, factually, very little is known. In telling the (quite interesting) history of Abberline’s times, Trow contextualises and thence mostly…

Jackaby

Jackaby by William Ritter (Algonquin Young Readers, 2014) A supernatural detective story that doesn’t overplay its hand, relying on clever but sensible plot progression and the charisma of the eponymous Jackaby – a cross between Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock and Matt Smith’s Doctor Who, narrated by a Victorian Clara Oswald John Watson.    

Muppets Meet the Classics: Fairy Tales from The Brothers Grimm

Muppets Meet the Classics: Fairy Tales from The Brothers Grimm by The Brothers Grimm and Erik Forrest Jackson (Penguin, 2018) It’s easy to see how this would work as an actual production. As prose, however, the reworking seems… pointless. The writing is decent enough but the deviations from the original fairy tales are unfunny, diminishing both the source material and…

The Demon Headmaster: Total Control

The Demon Headmaster: Total Control by Gillian Cross (Oxford University Press, 2017); audiobook read by Steven Crossley (Nudged, 2017) One of the great middle grade villains returns, bringing his hypnotic powers into the digital age. At first the characters’ understanding lags a bit too far behind the reader’s. Thereafter, however, the kids become plucky and resourceful heroes, easy to cheer…

Scorpion, Season 1

Scorpion, Season 1 (CBS, 2014-2015) Maladjusted geniuses fight against high-level security threats. There’s nothing remotely intellectual about the way this is made (and viewers beware, don’t seek out the supposed real-life backstory), but so long as it’s not taken too seriously it will provide fast, funny escapism.    

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); audiobook read by Ari Fliakos (Macmillan, 2012) Gen Y culture butts heads with a book cult. The protagonist is knowingly self-aware and Sloan seems likewise, presenting a plot and characters that, while very much going their own way, in doing so flirt playfully with expectations of conflict and jeopardy.…