THE SECRETS OF DREARCLIFF GRANGE SCHOOL In a class of its own
released oUT NoW! 416 pages | Paperback/ebook
Author Kim Newman
Publisher Titan books
While there have been many fantasy and horror stories and films set in schools, there are very few written for adults that play on the classic school story genre.
Given that said genre had its heyday in roughly the same time period as the adventure story, it’s no surprise that Kim Newman, with his love of pulps and adventure tales, is the person to take it on – and he does so brilliantly. The freezing dorms, vicious prefects (or “whips”) and unique argot of the school are common features in such tales, as is the notion of a secret gang of plucky gels taking on ne’er-do-wells. All Newman’s done is stir in a smattering of supernatural talents and extradimensional entities, and had fun with the tropes.
He’s also mixed in a few familiar faces from his Diogenes Club stories, to which this novel feels very similar in tone. It’s not as peppered with pop culture references as the Anno Dracula books – though there are enough of those to raise a smile. The only thing that prevents it being perfect is the ending, which is a bit too Lovecraftian in its lack of firm detail. Miriam McDonald
The first thing Newman read that made him want to write was HG Wells’s killer squid story “The Sea Raiders”.