Review: Crater Lake

I was very excited to receive my signed pre-order of this fantastic book, along with a pin badge, from the publisher, Firefly Press.

But whatever happens they must never, ever, fall asleep!

Crater Lake is a perfect blend of jump-inducing scariness, brilliant characters and fast-paced action laced with a good dollop of humour and warmth!  It kept me gripped and on the edge of my seat from start to finish. 

The Year 6 children of Montmorency School are the first students to stay at the newly opened Crater Lake Activity Centre.  They don’t experience the welcome normally reserved for excited children on a school residential:  their bus is stopped by the figure of a bloodstained man with a warning.  From this point on, the creepiness and fright levels keep on escalating which makes this a truly compelling read. 

On arrival at the Centre, the children soon discover something strange is definitely afoot when they meet the Centre Manager, Digger who seems to be running the Centre on his own.  The tension soon heats up, and the action explodes, as classmates and teachers change in dangerous and frightening ways … will the small group of friends be able to save themselves and their classmates, or will an unknown invader prevail? 

Wow!  The ramping up of the levels of scary from eerie and creepy to downright frightening and gross is brilliantly realised.  I was utterly enthralled by the fast-paced plot from the stifling atmosphere to the pervading sense of danger to the twists and revelations … all combined with humour and heart from a fantastic group of firm friends.

I adored the camaraderie and humour between friends, Lance, Chets, Katja and Big Mak, as well as their new friend, Adrianne, which were incredibly authentic and heart-warming.  They are all brilliantly written with their own strengths and vulnerabilities, and work fantastically well as a supportive team as they fight to survive and protect each other, even if this doesn’t always meet with success.

Lance is an incredibly sympathetic protagonist who I adored.  He may not be the perfect student according to his, to be frank, appalling Assistant Head, but he is a very astute one. He shows himself to have an admirable inner strength, taking charge when needed and keeping his courage in place, despite his fear.  He has a deep desire to keep everyone safe and goes to great lengths to do so, even when this puts him in danger.  I love the way he opens up to his friends about a secret in his life, and how they reciprocate, making their friendship even stronger.

Crater Lake is an absolute triumph of a story with an ingeniously written plot that expertly balances horror, humour and heart.  Perfect reading for Upper Key Stage 2 and beyond.

15 thoughts on “Review: Crater Lake

  1. Absolutely adore this book! It’s such a great book on many levels for that age group, it’s honest, Jennifer chooses what others may see as flawed characters- the naughty kids and shows they can be the hero too and my goodness this is such a powerful thing to do for children who may have felt written off by school means they are written off for life, Jennifer shows those children you CAN 💜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Completely agree! I just hope this book gets the recognition it deserves. I’m doing a School Reading Newsletter to email to all parents and I will definitely be recommending this one! Do you think it might get harder to get books now? That hadn’t occurred to me. I’ve pre-ordered some but there are definitely others I want. I notice that NetGalley is getting a lot more highly anticipated middle-grades!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m a bit worried that you will only get books from places that are their own suppliers ie Blackwells, Waterstones and the river that shall not be named – until
        Hive gets on top of their orders again (They ARE a warehouse/supplier just selling direct and donating a percentage of the difference between cost and price to the associated indies)

        Liked by 1 person

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