Robyn Silver is just like you.
If you… suddenly started seeing creepy creatures everywhere.
If you… discovered that you were born on the stroke of midnight and were a Chime Child – with special monster-hunting powers.
Would YOU want to be catapulted head first into an extraordinary, action-packed adventure? Be careful what you wish for…
Life was very ordinary for ten-year-old Robyn Silver. The often-ignored middle child in a big family, the most excitement she had was the dash to the dinner table to reach the last slice of pizza. Until… she begins to see creepy creatures around her town – creatures that are invisible to everyone else. Then her school is forced to decamp to mysterious Grimdean House and she meets its equally mysterious owner, Mr Cryptorum. Robyn finds herself catapulted headfirst into an extraordinary adventure – with more excitement than she could possibly have imagined.
This type of children’s book is one that I haven’t had much experience of for a long time. I have read a lot of picture books lately, so reading a children’s novel was new and refreshing. The sound of creepy creatures and a female heroine encouraged me to read the book – as well as the really bright yellow and red cover! The title, ‘The Midnight Chimes’, intrigued me to find out about Robyn Silver and her monster-hunting abilities. I think the cover, title and blurb would definitely be enough to encourage an eager young fantasy reader.
The story jumped straight into the action from the first page, with the titular Robyn Silver seeing strange creatures around her house. Robyn’s large family, including four brothers and sisters, see Robyn as a crazy, clumsy ten-year-old. When she begins to fight the apparently invisible creatures, her siblings see her as even weirder than normal. The lack of clear introduction or ‘beginning’ made the story quite difficult to follow straight away, as I was unsure of who the characters were. It felt like I had missed a previous book, rather than this one being the first. However, as I read further, I began to understand who the characters were in the large Silver family. Near the end of the first chapter, Robyn gets bitten by the spiny creature… which truly tells us that they are not a dream.
“The string of events are very entertaining and sometimes extremely tense and frightening!”
Following Chapter 1, we discover that Robyn’s school has been hit by a fallen tree and the whole school must relocate to the creepy Grimdean House, run by the equally creepy Mr Cryptorum. Mr Cryptorum was by far the character that intrigued me most. When we are introduced to him, he is very angry and standoffish. Several doors and hallways are marked as “NO ENTRY”, which made me wonder what was behind Cryptorum’s eerie personality. When Robyn discovers that her best friend Aiden can see the same creatures that she can, they decide they need to find out more about Cryptorum. The string of events following this are very entertaining and sometimes extremely tense and frightening! When Robyn and Aiden find out the reason for the school’s relocation to Grimdean House, it is not at all what they were expecting – and not what I was expecting either.
The story gradually becomes darker and more scary as it reaches the end. I found myself really wanting the characters to succeed in their mission to defeat the creatures. Robyn joins a team of monster hunters, including Aiden and a girl a year below them called Nora. Each team member has an ability that can help everybody; Robyn is fantastic in combat, Aiden is an avid carpenter and builder, and Nora knows a bit about everything as she always has her head in a book. I enjoyed reading about the relationships between the three characters and they way in which they work together.
The climax of the story arrives when Robyn and her team of monster hunters are sent to defeat the creatures. By this time, I had read about 130 pages in an hour. I was definitely not able to put it down until I found out what happened! The main villain of the story – and by far the most sinister – is their biggest battle. The lead-up to the fight was well written and extremely tense. Do Robyn, Aiden and Nora manage to end the battle and defeat the monsters? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
“After finishing the final page, I instantly wanted a sequel”
I enjoyed the book a lot and found it difficult to leave. After finishing the final page, I instantly wanted a sequel. The book has an interesting element at the end: all the creatures throughout the story are collected in a stylised “Chime Monster Compendium”. This gives a picture and some information about each creature, and I really loved this idea. It could also be used with children to create their own monsters based on the story. The pace of the story was very well-written; Harrison uses a lot of great description that makes you feel like you are right in the centre of the action.
The character development is fantastic for a children’s novel; each of the characters have their own strengths and weaknesses, and this is used really well throughout. The reference online to this novel being “book 1” and the Monster Compendium at the back being “Vol 1” suggests that there could be a sequel on the horizon… personally, I would absolutely love one!
In my opinion, the only downside to the book is the very brief introduction to the story and the characters. This made me take a little longer to get into the story. However, this was quickly forgotten about and I began to feel involved with the characters and story. Overall, I would give this book 4 stars and definitely recommend it to older children (11+) and even young adults. I really hope to see Robyn Silver in another adventure!
About the Author
Paula Harrison is a best-selling children’s author, with worldwide sales of over one million copies. Her books include The Rescue Princesses series. She wanted to be a writer from a young age but spent many happy years being a primary school teacher first.