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The Demon Headmaster (The Demon Headmaster #1)

3.70  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,615 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
Dinah moves in with the Hunter family and starts going to the same school as her foster-brothers Lloyd and Harvey. It's not easy, as they seem to hate her, and school is really strange. Pupils suddenly talk like robots and do weird things - even Dinah finds herself acting oddly.

She's sure the headmaster has some kind of power over them, and is determined to find out more.
Paperback, 144 pages
Published January 1st 1998 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1982)
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Best of UKMG Fiction
70th out of 112 books — 33 voters
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Books for Kids With a School Setting
6th out of 9 books — 6 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,295)
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Oct 23, 2015 Miriam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: younger, school
...and by Demon Cross really means Mean and Scary. There are no actual demonic entities, and no souls are eternally damned in the making of this book.

In fact, it isn't even very scary -- rather unrealistically so, given the premise. I mean, imagine you are little kid at a new school. Your new foster brothers drop ominous hints and are clearly afraid of the headmaster and other students. On your first day, all the other kids are strangely regimented and won't speak to you. You get physically man
Richard Waddington
Dec 21, 2015 Richard Waddington rated it liked it
2.5 stars

I finally got to finish reading this to my daughters recently. (We had started it months ago but interest in it 'dropped off' and it remained unfinished for a while).

This book is OK (damning with faint praise, if ever I heard it!) I'm sure that I would have liked it a lot more if I were 35 years younger, though. The basic storyline is quite imaginative and some of the characters are fairly well-drawn, but there are quite a few plot holes (then again, it is a fantasy book for children, s
Oct 08, 2012 Merwa1 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The demon headmaster is a very spooky book that will captivate children from the start. Dinah Glass starts at a new school and finds it to be very out of the ordinary. None of the children play typical games in the playground; they just stand around in circles, memorising multiplication tables and dates of kings and queens of England. Her two new foster brothers seem very nervous of the Headmaster and she soon finds out why when she meets him herself. Tall and thin in his black gown, with white ...more
Feb 09, 2014 M rated it it was amazing
I haven't revisited this classic since I first read it in the 80s. It is certainly as good, and as creepy, as I remember. Unlike my 80s self though, I did feel some sympathy towards the Headmaster, and feel that if he were in charge of running Britain rather than the current 'coalition' government, the country would be in a much better state. And if the Headmaster was in charge of schools today there would be no texting in class, smoking, etc, etc. Just good old fashioned Learnin' Stuff. With a ...more
Praiz Sophyronja
I read this in 2005/06 over and over again! I just stumbled onto it on my TL. Damn, this is so nostalgic...
May 09, 2014 Csy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first picked up The Demon Headmaster when I was in Grade 2, and of course, my grade 2 self loved it. It contained everything... suspense, supernatural, action, and most importantly, an evil villian that was easy to relate to. I mean, it's not uncommon for a 7/8 year-old to have dreams of world domination.

It’s been quite a few years, and this book has been imposed onto me as a compulsory reader. The following is written from my current perspective.

Firstly, I have to say that I didn’t enjoy this
Gillian Cross' "The Demon Headmaster" is the first novel in the Demon Headmaster series. Dinah Glass is a young, orphaned girl who is taken in by the Hunters, a sweet family with two boys close to Dinah's age. Upon her arrival, Dinah soon learns that the two boys, Lloyd and Harvey Hunter, have strong feelings of discomfort regarding the school in which they attend. Through further conversation, Dinah gathers that the main target of the boy's animosity is directed towards the school's Headmaster. ...more
Livash Ramduth
Sep 06, 2012 Livash Ramduth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My second review is of Gillian Cross’s story, The Demon Headmaster. This story is largely set in a school environment which is ideal in allowing students to utilise their imaginations as it’s a setting they are familiar with. The story follows Dinah Glass, a new student at school, and she finds it a very strange place right from the start. The children seem different; the games they play aren’t those that Dinah expected. In fact, the children seem to spend play time just memorising facts and rec ...more
Apr 03, 2012 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dinah Glass starts a new school where things are very strange. The children act in a robotic and unnerving way, seemingly lead by the strange, fierce and intimidating headmaster. Dinah begins to suspect that something is not quite right in the school, particularly surrounding the headmaster. When she voices her concern to her peers they all reply with exactly the same phrase, 'the headmaster is a wonderful man...'The story unfolds and Dinah finds that her suspicions were correct, this is no ordi ...more
Carina Mcdonagh
Apr 29, 2012 Carina Mcdonagh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'The Demon Headmaster' by Gillian Cross is an exciting story that both boys and girls would enjoy. It is the first of a series of books based on Dinah's war with the headmaster of her school, who uses his powers of hypnotism to try to take over the whole country through television. Dinah and her gang named 'SPLAT', who are immune to the headmaster's powers of hypnotism, plot to stop him. This book is suitable for children of 9 years and above, because of the theme of hypnotism which may be sligh ...more
Aug 07, 2014 Matthew rated it liked it
On the surface, The Demon Headmaster is a ever so slightly depressing, creepy book about a hypnotising, evil headteacher with plans for world domination. However, delve deeper, and you may find Gillian Cross has raised some important issues (social control, about the fact that the music we listen to, the television programmes we worship and the books we read influence our daily lives in more than one way, and about discipline and creativity... Slightly unnerving for a simple, short children's bo ...more
Nang Michelle
Mar 25, 2015 Nang Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The headmaster is a neat man who hates mess. His students are all very obedient. Obedient as in speaking only when they are told to, doesnt play when it's break time. Dinah's about to find out.
Jun 16, 2015 JK rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book when I was younger, and I especially loved the television series. Who could forget those horrible green eyes of doom? Yuck.

Despite this long lost love, I'm not too sure if this book is a good one for adults to return to. I remember finding it so exciting in my younger days, but reading it this time, I felt a bit depressed! I didn't feel a great deal of suspense as I read; there definitely should have been some there. I didn't have much feeling for the characters either; no love
Elizabeth Moffat
Feb 02, 2016 Elizabeth Moffat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the first book in our Kid-Lit challenge for 2016, we wanted to pick quite a special book to both of us and in the end, we decided to go for The Demon Headmaster. This was one of my personal favourite books from childhood and I also used to read it to Chrissi when we were kids (one of the many I read to her!). Again, I was slightly worried about reading this book as an adult and although I didn’t love it as much the second time around I still believe it’s a wonderful piece of children’s ficti ...more
Aine O'riordan
The Demon Headmaster is a witty entertaining story in which the headmaster of a school has demon powers and wants to take over the world. He has piercing light green eyes, which he normally hides behind dark-tinted glasses — removing these in order to hypnotise his victim(s).
Dinah Glass (the main character) moves in with Lloyd and Harvey Hunter and at first does not like them. Soon she discovers that at her new school, the Headmaster is very strange and she finds herself saying things like, "I
Oct 27, 2008 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 13, 2014 Redfox5 rated it really liked it
It's been a long time since I even thought about The Demon Headmaster. I read this when I was younger and I'm pretty sure I read the others in the series, though I remember nothing about them. I also used to watch the tv show. This is supposed to be a horror story for children though I've never found it scary, now or then. It's a good story, a school of children are being hypnotized by the Headmaster to be orderly. However some of the children can't be hypnotized and they discover the Headmaster ...more
Sati Marie Frost
Dinah has just been fostered by the Hunter family, and all she wants is to keep her head down and get along. The Hunter boys - Lloyd, who is Dinah's age, and Harvey, a few years younger - don't seem very welcoming, although their parents are nice. But Dinah's biggest shock comes at school. The children act like robots and the prefects are hopped up on their own power and think nothing of doling out cruel and unusual punishments for the slightest infraction. But the headmaster - he's the really d ...more
Sep 04, 2013 Mohima rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good read. A storyline that will keep you at the edge of your seat, drinking in every word, wanting to know what is going to happen next.

It is about six friends setting out to discover the under lying reasons behind this new craze-The Hunky Parker craze. It seemed that it was everywhere; this ugly, slimy looking pig’s face had this unique ability to put people in a trance. People going crazy buying Hunky Parker t-shirts and trainers to pencil sharpeners and books. It was weird.

It was then th
Sep 15, 2013 Somerandom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 16, 2013 Bookguide rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In het Nederlands gelezen: Het demonische schoolhoofd.

Erg goed geschreven boek dat spannend blijft tot het eind, en de wisselwerking tussen de kinderen is erg leuk. Er zijn regelmatig grappige stukjes in het boek; met name de gekke scheldwooren van Lloyd, zoals "gebakken bloemkoolworsten!", zijn erg leuk. Maar de hoofdnoot is toch spanning. Het gaat over Dinah, die in een pleeggezien woont bij de tweeling Lloyd en Harvey. Als ze op school komt, merkt ze dat de leerlingen bijna als robots gehoorz
Derelict Space Sheep

The first in an award-winning series of children’s books featuring schoolkids Dinah, Lloyd and Harvey, who must fight back against the eponymous demon headmaster — a sinister man/creature who uses his hypnotic powers to take over the school... while eyeing even bigger conquests!
Oct 24, 2015 Liadagh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 27, 2015 Emmy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I don't want to be harsh. i understand a lot of people enjoyed this book but it just didn't do it for me. I think the plot could have been great and the idea is good it just was a bit underdeveloped. I hated the main character Dina and didn't have a strong yearning towards any of the others either. The writing wasn't for me and I disliked the cover as well which didn't do much for its likeabitly.
However I enjoyed certain parts and it did have some stronger parts that I liked. Overall it was a qu
Sep 08, 2012 Wes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dinah an orphan finds herself cast into unfamiliar territory when she is placed with a foster family. Used to playing the system and concealling how clever she really is from her peers and elders, Dinah now feels the system is playing her and that somehow it is all connected to the head master of her strange new school. Relying on her suspicious new foster siblings Lloyd and Harvey, can Dinah and the rest of the splat club get to the bottom of everyone's odd behaviour at school and foil the evil ...more
Kate B
Mar 11, 2015 Kate B rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oooh, that feeling you have when you know when something is seriously wrong but can't quite put your finger on it...
I must look out for the others in the series (I hadn't known there were more when I read this in 1984).
Sean Randall
Dec 17, 2012 Sean Randall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd always wanted to read this again, but would never pay for it given that it was a very expensive eBook and it renders down to only 57 minutes long when I actually come to listen to it. I first heard a cassette version, abridged, and played it time and time again as a kid.

As with my potter replays, I kept hearing the voice in my head, which was quite nostalgic. The story is also quite fun, of course, as a child the idea rather appealed to me and I still think it's a clever idea, though natural
May 15, 2011 Chie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5/4 Stars. A very entertaining read. Good characterization and well written.Great plot and execution. I was just a little wary of the ending. I think the author could have added even more pizzazz into this plot. She had everything it which is made it good, but i think with a dash of more darkness, humour and a sliver of a psychological thriller, so basically if it was a lot more adult/mature it would have just blown me out of the water.

Overall I recommend it. I would like to read it again to s
Leah Liapi
Mar 15, 2014 Leah Liapi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Its really good because I like mysterious adventures and this is the book that has lots.
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2015 Reading Chal...: The Demon Headmaster by Gillian Cross 1 9 Oct 04, 2015 10:02AM  
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Gillian Cross was born Gillian Arnold in 1945. She was educated at North London Collegiate School, Somerville College, Oxford and the University of Sussex. Although now a full-time writer who often travels and gives talks in connection with her work, she has had a number of informal jobs including being an assistant to a Member of Parliament. For eight years she also sat on the committee which adv ...more
More about Gillian Cross...

Other Books in the Series

The Demon Headmaster (6 books)
  • The Prime Minister's Brain
  • The Revenge of the Demon Headmaster
  • The Demon Headmaster Strikes Again
  • Demon Headmaster Takes Over Tie In
  • Facing the Demon Headmaster

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“The man who can keep order can rule the world, but the man who can bear disorder is truly free.” 0 likes
“….This time she did not feel a thing when the Headmaster stuck the pin into her arm.” 0 likes
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