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Digital Subscriptions > Quill & Quire > JUNE 2016 > What a scream

What a scream

Horror, sci-fi, and cinematic history make for a fun and frightening read in Arthur Slade’s latest



Arthur Slade

HarperCollins Canada, Ages 8-12

THE FIRST thing that strikes you about Arthur Slade’s writing is that the Saskatchewan author doesn’t “write down” to children. Flickers, Slade’s latest middle-grade novel, treats readers as intelligent beings, capable of complex thought and the ability to follow a plot that veers from historical fiction to sci-fi-tinged horror.

The book tells the story of twin sisters Isabelle and Beatrice Thorn. Born to a curmudgeonly farmer named Ernest and his beautiful younger wife, Abigail, on a farm near Lethbridge, Alberta, during a snowstorm in 1913, the girls could not be more different. Isabelle, born first, is exquisite from the moment she takes her first breath. Beatrice, however, makes Ernest think of malformed calves he’s delivered. “She was as wretched as those calves, her skull misshapen, perhaps from the force he’d applied when he’d pulled her. Her naked body was covered with brown spots – dozens of birthmarks on her arms, legs, chest and face.” As Ernest turns to inform Abigail that she’s delivered another girl, he realizes his wife is dead.

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