I'm a ghost. Can I be your mum?

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The Independent Culture

I expected a lot from Darren Shan's 16th novel, Bec (Harper Collins £12.99), and I got a lot. This book was easily as exciting as the other three books in the Demonata series.

Bec is an apprentice priestess in a village in the forest. She can remember her own birth and that her ancestors aren't of this clan. Every night, the village is attacked by demons, and every night they have to protect the women and children from being slaughtered. One night, a boy comes running to their village explaining that his village needs help. Bec decides to go, along with some other people, hoping to find out who her real clan is. They meet a druid and encounter more powerful demons. An excellent read.

My Swordhand Is Singing by Marcus Sedgwick (Orion £9.99) is a traditional vampire story, set on the outskirts of a snowy village. The book is about a father and his son working as woodcutters. The village of Chust needs a new woodcutter, so when Tomas and his son Peter hear about this, they apply for the job and build their own house near the village. When Peter is in the village, selling wood, he hears rumours about the Snow Queen and everyone is boarding up their houses. He rushes home to find a couple of dark strangers on horseback just leaving his house. His father won't tell him what's happening. Meanwhile, the gypsies settled near the village are acting strangely. Exciting from start to finish.

We've had a demon story, a vampire story and now here comes a ghost story. In Cliff McNish's Breathe (Orion £9.99), Jack has an unnatural ability. Whatever he touches, he can feel who has been there. Jack and his mum decided to move to an old house, to try and forget what happened to Jack's father. As Jack explores the house, he can feel death. A feeling he'd never felt before. When he was small, Jack nearly died of an asthma attack and still suffers frequently. In the middle of the night, a ghost visits him, wanting to be his new mother, and other ghosts appear throughout the book. You shouldn't really read this before you go to sleep, as there are some really scary moments. It's well-written and easy to read.

In The Intruders, by E E Richardson (Bodley Head £8.99), Joel, his older sister and his mum, are moving in with Joel's mum's new boyfriend. Things have been tough on the family after their father walked out, so Gerald offers to let them move in. Joel is excited, but his sister Cassie has other ideas. Once in the house, James keeps seeing things and keeps having the same nightmare over and over again. Cassie and her stepbrothers are at war against each other and more strange things start to happen. This book is very mysterious, but it's not as good as my previous selections. The author writes very well, it's just that the story line isn't that strong.

In the Overlords' world of Shade's Children (by Garth Nix, Harper Collins £12.99), children cannot live over the age of 14. As I am 14 myself, this worries me. Shade's Children is set in the future with no proper adults. After finding out their terrible fate, four children have escaped and have joined a resistance movement, which is captained by Shade. They are pursued by the Overlord's minions, and Shade asks them to do curious things. I think that Garth Nix's first books - Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen - were better than this one. It wasn't bad, but I think it could have been better.