Reviews for Ghost Prison

Booklist Reviews 2013 October #1
This vivid, illustrated chapter book opens as young Billy awakens and realizes that he's late for his first night's work. He rushes from the Home for Unfortunate Boys to the haunted castle, a menacing edifice now serving as a prison. His first night shift is frightening, but worse times are coming. After his supervisor's death, a terrified Billy takes over the care of an unnamed prisoner, shrouded in mystery. Will one careless mistake leave the lad prey to a notorious ghost and her monstrous son? Best known for the Last Apprentice series, Delaney takes a plucky, Dickensian orphan and places him in a story as deliciously horrifying as those of Edgar Allan Poe. His skillful writing creates an atmosphere of disquiet and a growing sense of dread that makes the story's climax a necessary release, though the worst horrors are left to the reader's imagination. The many black-and-white illustrations enhance the story's tone and its period setting. In appended notes, both Delaney and Fischer reminisce about their own encounters with ghosts. A frightful pleasure for horror fans. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2014 Fall
Fifteen-year-old orphan Billy takes a job as a castle prison guard, only to learn that ghosts there have sinister plans for him. Slightly younger readers who want the excitement of Delaney's Last Apprentice books will enjoy this eerie but manageable horror novella. Spooky sketchlike black-and-white illustrations adorn almost every page and add to the story's old-fashioned flavor.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 September #2
Billy's new job at the ghost prison may be the death of him. Billy Calder's spent nine years at the Home for Unfortunate Boys, and he's ready to get a job; he takes one as a guard at the prison in an old castle on the hill outside his medieval village. He and the other orphans have always enjoyed frightening one another with tales of witches and ghosts dwelling in the castle, but Billy was never sure if those tales had any truth to them--until he's asked to work the overnight shift. Mr. Adam Colne, Billy's boss, tells him that someone requested that Billy be assigned to the night shift…someone dead. Netty, the ghost of a witch hanged at the prison, asked for Billy, and she usually gets what she wants; her displeasure's hard to bear. Colne tells Billy Netty's story and warns Billy to stay away from the Witch Well, for something awful dwells there. Billy follows that rule until one night when the rest of the guards are sick…and Billy has to feed what lives in the Witch Well. Delaney, author of the Last Apprentice series, packs a lot of scare into this slim volume, and Fischer's black-and-white illustrations delightfully increase the fear factor. Not for the faint of heart, this probably should be read with the lights on…they'll likely have to stay on. (Horror. 8-11) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 September #1

Delaney's popular Last Apprentice series for HarperCollins jumps to the big screen in early 2014 with Seventh Son; set in the same world as those books, this lightly scary novella might persuade a few readers to check out the original stories beforehand. The story, which unfolds in six short chapters, is narrated by orphan Billy Calder, who is apprehensive about the new job he has landed: helping guard an infamously haunted prison on the night shift. The ghosts and dangers turn out to be all too real, as Billy learns about the prison's bloody history and has a life-altering encounter one night while on the job. Fischer's spindly and often gruesome ink illustrations amp up the fear factor--a pile of broken dentures sit in a puddle of blood, and the hanged silhouette of "Long-Neck Netty" appears under a moonlit sky in the prison's Execution Square. Despite the publisher's age recommendation and some creepy moments (including talk of neck-stretching and buckets full of blood and gore), this story is appropriate for (and more likely to interest) a middle-grade audience. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2014 January

Gr 4-7--Billy Calder seizes a job opportunity as a castle prison guard, hoping to earn his way to independence from the Home for Unfortunate Boys. After minimal training, the 15-year-old orphan is summoned to work nights under an imposing supervisor named Adam Colne. He tells Billy that a feisty castle ghost, "Long-Neck Netty," had her eyes on him during training and had insisted on his hire. The boy learns that many ghosts haunt the castle, especially at Execution Square, and is advised to be cautious when alone, and to keep close track of his keys. When Colne falls ill, Billy is charged with feeding raw, bloody meat to a dangerous prisoner in the Witch Well. During the frightful task, he leaves the key in the door and someone-or something-seals his fate by locking him in the Well. This suspenseful Dickensian tale boasts black-and-white illustrations on nearly every page, evoking nightmarish scenes of a dark and drafty castle and its grotesque, ghostly inhabitants. Younger, or less fluent, readers may be steered to this abbreviated, and more accessible ghost story before tackling Delaney's wildly popular "Last Apprentice" series. Given its brevity, this book could be used as a spooky read-aloud.--Vicki Reutter, State University of New York at Cortland

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