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on 21 September 2009
I forget where I first spotted Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror, but I do remember that I was completely captivated by the cover.

And I was delighted to discover that it was a gothic and a portmanteau book - two things I can never resist.

Edgar is a solitary child - his parents are distant and, because he has been sent away to school, he is not close to the neighbourhood children. As the story opens with young Edgar walking through the woods to visit his Uncle Montague. The author takes you along on that walk, and you never leave Edgar's side, through everything that is to come.

Menace is so cleverly hinted at with very small details - a slow-moving kissing-gate, silent children lurking in overgrown woods, a cold and heavy garden gate ...

Finally Edgar and Uncle Montague settle down for tea, cake and stories in Uncle Montague's wonderfully gothic house. And what stories! Each one is simple, clear, and perfectly-formed. And they are strange tales, each with a child protagonist, and each escalating to a striking twist.

A boy enters the house of a woman he believes to be a witch and meets a most unexpected fate; a girl opens a forbidden door and is trapped in a dolls' house; a boy chased off a cliff by a demonic version of himself; a girl granted three wishes who finds that those wishes have dark consequences.... It would be unfair to say too much.

Some of the stories are stronger than others but they all work. And, while each is distinctive, they come together well as a set.

But that's not all. Edgar and Uncle Montague talk between stories, and their own story develops. Edgar begins to wonder. Is there is truth in the stories? Where have the artefacts that Uncle Montague shows him come from? And who are the strange children trying to gain access to the house?

All becomes clear in the astonishing final story - Uncle Montague's own.

Everything comes together just perfectly.

Tribute is paid to many great writers of ghost stories and the volume itself is a lovely little hardback, beautifully illustrated by David Roberts.

Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror is a chilren's book but it makes wonderful reading for adults too - and it would be lovely for parents or grandparents to read to children with a love of scary things.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 21 November 2011
Edgar goes to his visit his uncle; actually his `great great great something' uncle who lives in a dark old house beyond the woods. Uncle Montague is a great one for story telling - while the never seen Franz brings tea and biscuits, Uncle Montague tells Edgar tales of children and mysterious happenings. These start off quite innocent; charming, and only slightly eerie; but it is not long before the tales seem to become darker, the undertones more menacing. And what is it that Edgar keeps thinking he sees out of the corner of his eyes; what are the noises in the house with Edgar and his uncle?

Clearly written for a younger audience than me, but I never turn down a good story when I find one. This was great - beautifully written, and wonderful for reading out loud, or for getting a child interested in reading. The illustrations are terrific. I really enjoyed this book. Wonderful stuff.
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VINE VOICEon 11 July 2011
At home from boarding school, Edgar is a lonely child who likes to escape his indifferent parents to visit his relation of unknown degree, called Uncle Montague, to listen to stories. And what stories they are! This latest visit incorporates items from around the study into each tale, and then Uncle Montague tops it all off by narrating a final story where he himself is the subject.

This is a collection of self-contained short stories framed by a larger narrative involving Uncle Montague and Edgar. Even though the tales aren't quite up to the standard of his other work Tales of Terror from the Black Ship in my opinion, they are nevertheless sinister and frightening, just occasionally bordering on the unpleasant. Edgar's narration on the other hand is a marvellous study in creepiness, the author managing to increase the tension and suspense in small degrees, creating a wonderful sense of foreboding and unease until all is revealed at the end. I especially liked the idea of the sugar bowl on the tea tray having to be refilled at regular intervals and Edgar blaming this on his uncle's sweet tooth, even though he never actually sees him take one.

As always I admire Chris Priestley's twisted imagination that can conjure up stories like these, and even though the narratives' subjects are children, don't be fooled into thinking that this is a children's book, some of the stories are far too disturbing for a younger readership. Worth re-reading again and again.
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on 10 August 2008
This is a great book to dip into again and again. Each chapter can stand alone, which makes them perfect bedtime story material - if you don't get easily spooked that is!
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on 26 February 2011
Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror is a very spooky collection of tales brilliantly written by Chris Priestly. I picked it up from the library and wasn't at all disappointed with the read.

It contains and number of stories, some more creepy than others, all tied together by the main protagonist Edgar, visiting his old Uncle Montague, who is a recluse in his gothic mansion. All the stories are from the viewpoints of children, and all the mysteries evoked from the stories and conversations between Edgar and Montague are explained in the final story, that of Montague himself.

The stories are all accompanied by brilliant illustrations, about 2 per story, that help tell the tales even further by bringing the scenes into your mind as pictures.

My favourite story was 'The Gilt Frame', and the twist at the end was a very chilling turn, and something I didn't expect.

My only criticism of the book is, whilst some of the stories were truly scary, others were quite tame, and the author could have enhanced them.
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on 14 December 2013
This book will run goosebumps along your spine and have you hiding under your chair with your arm still extended as you read, because you just can't stop for one moment. The cover is quite simple, but it captures all the different key aspects from each of the short stories intertwined into this book. The colours are also very tea-like making it appear even more creepy and mysterious.

Edgar's uncle lives in a haunted house, surrounded by a forest, away from prying eyes. But, his garden/forest is filled with statues and little ornaments that hold more significance to them than just a ornament. They all have a story to tell... of which will all give you nightmares.

The short stories in this book were amazing, they linked neatly together like a puzzle and the description and imagery was sensational. It will keep you up all night wondering what certain aspects of the story mean and have you making up your own.

The next book in this series: Tales of Terror from the Black Ship.
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on 24 November 2014
What an absolutely fantastic collection of stories! Each one is linked by an excellent narrative story all revolving around a young boy who goes to visit his Uncle who in turn has a room filled with various oddities and curiosities - each one with a spooky story of their own.

I don't think there is a duff one in the whole book and while I was sad as each story ended, it was soon forgotten as I turned the page and found the next one.

Nothing too gory but beautifully written, with descriptions that allow you to fully immerse yourself in what the author wants you to see.

I was drawn to read this after reading a short story in another compilation by the same author and I wasn't disappointed - I'll certainly be seeking out more by Chris Priestley and can only hope the standard remains as high.
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on 4 August 2013
A very interesting read. It is well written, fast paced and very gripping. I wouldn't call it minimal, it is not over written yet the style of writing carries a sophistication that gives the reader a lot of detail in a rather concise manner. This style of writing is perfect for children or people new to reading. However the nature of the stories within the pages are so disturbing that I often asked myself while reading, "Is this really a childrens book?" I believe the moral of each story is for children to heed the warnings of their elders, for curiosity can lead to severe consequences. Therefore this story is perfect if you want to teach your children to listen to your warnings, although I think I will be waiting until my son is at least nine years old before I let him read it. Overall, a brilliant book. Well done Chris!
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on 17 December 2008
I thought this book was very good, first the cover and artwork of the book was very good. The stories had a very eerie feel to them and worked effectively. The only bad thing about this book is that if the writer wanted to he could have made the book a lot scarier. The story is basically a collection of stories that are scary; as it goes on the stories get scarier and scarier.
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on 14 April 2013
I am so happy i borrowed this book from the library some time ago. This book is one of the best books I have ever read! it may very well be my favourite. Each tale is excellently written and have a spine chilling moral to it. This book is fabulous! and for the reviews saying that its not scary enough... well they are partly right because they aren't particularly scary, however they still are worth buying. The illustrations go extremely well with the book too and are very creepy. YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!!!
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