cover image A Fit of Shivers

A Fit of Shivers

Joan Aiken, Author Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers $15 (147p) ISBN 978-0-385-30691-1

Once again, this prolific author has come up with a pleasantly chilling compendium of spooky tales, each with a distinctly British flavor. Various forms of greed and revenge play parts in much of the collection: ``Number Four, Bowstring Lane'' and ``The Legacy'' are simple, satisfying accounts of people done in by cupidity; an arrogant art critic is driven to ``An L-Shaped Grave'' after coming face-to-face with an ancient goddess moonlighting as a contemporary artist; ``Birthday Presents'' are the weapons of choice in an escalating war of false pleasantries fought by two rivalrous sisters; and, in ``Earrings,'' a child returns from the grave to finish off her murderous stepfather. In contrast, ``Cousin Alice'' and ``Watkyn, Comma,'' though they deal with supernatural events, positively radiate hope and forgiveness. These qualities, unusual in this genre, combine with the precise writing to give Aiken's tales an unusual depth of emotion: more like novellas than anything else, they invite rereading. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)