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Cover image for Strange star
Strange star

First U.S. edition.
New York : Delacorte Press, [2018]
Physical Description:
230 pages ; 22 cm
A tale to freeze the blood : Lake Geneva, Switzerland, June 1816 -- Lizzie's tale : Sweepfield, Somersetshire, December 1815-May 1816 -- Ideas set free : Villa Diodati, Lake Geneva, June 1816 -- Epilogue : London, January 1818.
Told primarily by servant Felix, a former slave, Lord Byron and friends gather to tell ghost stories on a stormy night in 1816 Switzerland, but a scarred girl arrives with her own dark and dangerous tale.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.3 8 193763.

Accelerated Reader 4.3.

Lexile 590L.

Accelerated Reader/Renaissance Learning MG 4.3 8.0 193763.


Call Number
J Carroll, E.

On Order



From the critically acclaimed author of In Darkling Wood comes a spine-tingling novel inspired by Frankenstein with more than a hint of mystery and suspense.

One stormy June evening, five friends meet at Villa Diodati, the summer home of Lord Byron. After dinner is served, they challenge each other to tell ghost stories that will freeze the blood. But one of the guests--Mary Shelley--is stuck for a story to share.

Then there's an unexpected knock at the front door. Collapsed on the doorstep is a girl with strange scars on her face. She has traveled a long way with her own tale to tell, and now they all must listen.

Hers is no ordinary ghost story, though. What starts as a simple tale of village life soon turns to tragedy and the darkest, most dangerous of secrets. Sometimes the truth is far more terrifying than fiction . . . and the consequences are even more devastating.

Praise for Emma Carroll's In Darkling Wood :

"A haunting and poignant exploration of family, loss, and redemption." -- Booklist , Starred

"A tale brimming with emotion and atmosphere . . . . [ In Darkling Wood ] is absorbing and well written. Hand this to readers who enjoy fantasy, fairy tales, and magical realism."-- School Library Journal , Starred

"Magic and mystery adds appeal to this already compelling family drama ...and Carroll manages to wrap all of the threads into a wholly satisfying ending." --Bulletin

Author Notes

Emma Carroll was a high school English teacher before she retired to pursue writing full-time. She has also worked as a reporter, an avocado picker, and the person who punches holes into Filofax paper. She recently graduated with distinction from Bath Spa University with an MA in Writing For Young People. She lives in the Somerset hills of southwest England with her husband and two terriers.

To learn more about Emma and her books, visit emmacarrollauthor.wordpress.com, follow @emmac2603 on Twitter, and look for In Darkling Wood , also available from Delacorte Press.

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5 Up-Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, Clare Clairmont, and Dr. John Polidori are all sitting around the fireplace on a stormy night. The goal of the night's assemblage is to "tell a ghost story that will terrify the assembled company." Everyone has had a turn except Mary Shelley, who is uncharacteristically stuck for a thrilling tale. The party is about to turn in for the night when there is a knock on the door. Standing outside is a pale girl named Lizzie, covered in scars like tree branches. She accuses Mary of kidnapping her little sister, and then launches into a story full of intrigue, in which a mysterious scientist named Francesca Stein moved into the mansion on the hill and began conducting strange experiments, culminating in bringing a dead wolf back to life using the power of electricity. Carroll's version of how Shelley came up with Frankenstein is as inventive and thrilling as the novel itself, but the real power of the story comes from the underlying theme of not judging people by their appearance-much like the original, and still a prevalent message today. The book also includes several strong female characters: Lizzie, blind after getting struck by lightning, overcomes many obstacles in order to get her sister back; Lizzie's mom, whose independence from her husband separated her from the rest of society; even Francesca Stein is shown in an admirable light as a brilliant female scientist struggling to break into the profession, until her experiments go awry. VERDICT A entertaining, thoughtful rendition of Frankenstein's  conception. Some readers may not understand the references to the original story, but they'll enjoy it nonetheless.-Tyler Hixson, Brooklyn Public Library © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book Review

Servant Felix tells of how, in 1816 Switzerland, his employer Lord Byron's night of revelrous storytelling with friends (including Percy and Mary Shelley) is interrupted by Lizzie, a blind and scarred girl seeking her sister. Horror unfolds as Lizzie recounts her experience with loss, lightning, and an unprincipled woman scientist. Literary-minded readers will recognize Lizzie's haunting story as the germ of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

'Twas a dark and stormy night in 1816 when several literary luminaries gathered at a Swiss villa to spin tales of unearthly terror. Beginning with their host, Lord Byron, the participantswho include Percy and Mary Shelleyembark upon their evening's entertainment but are soon interrupted by the dramatic arrival of a blind English girl, famished and bearing mysterious scars. She has a shocking story of her own to tell, one that includes a comet that portends misfortune; the arrival in Somerset of a reclusive woman scientist, Francesca Stine; a ravening beast preying on livestock in the night; an arrogant cloaked gentleman lurking in graveyards; visions of imminent death; and horrific experiments in the name of science. The sole nonwhite character, Felix, is a former American slave who somehow acquired his freedom and sailed to Europe, where he was hired by Byron's housekeeper. The inclusion of a courageous young person of color who is respected by the white people around him is a welcome novelty in historical fiction. Against the backdrop of the central mystery, the texture of daily life in Georgian England and some of the pressing social issues of the day are vividly portrayed. Suspenseful and atmospheric, the book features an afterword by the author about Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and her inspiration for the characters and plot.An adventure story packed full to the brim with dramaand just the right amount of shivery, fearsome delight. (Horror. 9-14) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

On a dark summer night in Switzerland, Lord Byron challenges his friends to tell ghost stories, while Felix, a servant boy told to stay out of sight because of his dark skin color, listens at the door. One guest, Mary Shelley, struggles with the challenge. Then, a knock at the door: a half-dead girl named Lizzie with strange scars has appeared on the doorstep, and she has a chilling story of her own. A comet some say a bad omen passed over Lizzie's village, and a lightning storm changed her life for the worse. Her inquisitive sister keeps getting into trouble, and a mysterious scientist keeps appearing in the graveyard. As all these seemingly unconnected things come to a head, Lizzie faces an incredible journey, carrying a story that, perhaps, Mary Shelley needs to hear. Frankenstein's influence is clear in this Gothic-infused middle-grade novel though knowledge of it is certainly not a prerequisite and Carroll (In Darkling Wood, 2017) is adept at crafting tense, atmospheric backdrops. Effective as an introduction to a classic or as stand-alone horror-lite.--Reagan, Maggie Copyright 2018 Booklist