By Barry Hutchison
Published by HarperCollins
ISBN 978 0 00 731515 4
Read the title of Barry Hutchinson's new series of novels very carefully. No, there isn't a spelling mistake. These stories for young teens are all about fiends - not friends. Mr Mumbles, the first imaginary fiend, is far from being a pal. He is a thoroughly nasty piece of work, who terrorises the novel's young hero to within an inch of losing his mind.
Hutchinson's novel has one aim in mind - to scare the reader. There is a short set-up in the first few chapters, and then the vengeful Mr Mumbles is released. He takes no prisoners, and that includes the reader, as well as the poor unfortunates he terrorises in the tale.
When Kyle was a young boy, he had an imaginary friend who he called Mr Mumbles because he mumbled when he spoke. Yet this Mr Mumbles was funny, pleasant and understood Kyle very well; the two of them used to do lots of interesting things together and Kyle would tell him secrets he told to no one else.
However, as all small boys do, Kyle grew up, and Mr Mumbles stopped playing a part in his life. By the age of eight, Kyle had completely forgotten about his one-time imaginary friend. And this is where the problems begin. Because Mr Mumbles had not forgotten about him. He wants to return to Kyle's life and he is full of vengeance for being rejected.
On Christmas Day, when Kyle is 12, a very different Mr Mumbles turns up. This time he is not imaginary - and he does not want to be Kyle's friend. He has turned into a monster who will stop at nothing to claim his revenge.
Kyle is horrified at the hideous creature that chases him out of his own home into the night. Mr Mumbles has had his lips stitched together to stop him speaking and looks like something from the depths of a nightmare. The schoolboy finds himself running from someone who had once existed only in his imagination.
But how do you beat a horror villain to whom the rules of reality do not apply? Kyle and Mr Mumbles are soon locked in a battle from which only one of them can come out intact.
Mr Mumbles is a full-on horror story for readers who like to feel the hair on the back of their neck stand up. The story contains twists and turns, chases and fights, and a good serving of good old-fashioned scares. When Mr Mumbles leads Kyle into a very spooky place called The Darkest Corners, Hutchison lets his imagination take flight and the whole story ends with a terrific twist that readers will not be expecting.
If the rest of Hutchison's Invisible Fiends books match the standard set by Mr Mumbles, young horror fans have much to look forward to.
John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com