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Button Hill

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Dekker isn’t happy that he and his little sister, Riley, are stuck in Button Hill with their weird old great-aunt Primrose. When he discovers an old clock in the cellar, made entirely of bones and with a skull for a face, he doesn’t think much about it. But when Riley goes missing, a strange boy named Cobb appears in Button Hill. He tells Dekker that Button Hill sits on the border between Nightside and Dayside—and that Riley is in Nightside and may never return. In order to save her, Dekker must follow her into the darkness and sacrifice something he thought he couldn’t live without.

253 pages, Paperback

First published March 31, 2015

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About the author

Michael Bradford

2 books4 followers
Michael Bradford was born in 1975 in St. Albert, Alberta. He grew up in Calgary, where his Mom and Dad drove him to the public library every week, but made him sit in the front seat and look out the window on the way back. He is grateful to them for both of these things.

Michael has worked as a grass cutter, waiter, pizza-delivery boy, literacy teacher, elementary-school vice-principal and published poet. Button Hill is his first novel for young readers. He lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, with his wife and two children.

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5 stars
21 (26%)
4 stars
25 (31%)
3 stars
22 (27%)
2 stars
5 (6%)
1 star
6 (7%)
Displaying 1 - 23 of 23 reviews
Profile Image for Amy Neftzger.
Author 13 books174 followers
February 2, 2015
There's a lot to like about this book: mysterious places, sinister characters, desire for life, and an unusual explanation about the link between the living and the dead. We journey with a brother and sister to the world of the dead and learn the rules for crossing from one side to the other. The rules and how the places are linked are fleshed out well (pun intended). However, the book did start out a little slow for me (keep reading - it's worth it), and the narration lacked flow in places. These issues aside, the book is creative and full of fast-moving adventure sequences. Children who enjoy dark stories will love it.

Note: I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Holly (Holly Hearts Books).
366 reviews3,060 followers
June 26, 2016
When I pick up a middle grade book, I expect a lot of adventure and a ton of humor and this book is packed full of that!

Button Hill is about a two siblings, Dekker and Riley, who are forced to live with there super creepy and cryptic speaking great aunt Primrose for the summer. Little do they know that aunt Primrose is keeping secrets about a strange old grandfather clock with a skull on it in the cellar. When Dekker decides to play a trick on Riley and leave her locked in the cellar for just only moments, (stupid older brothers..) he soon regrets it when he realizes Riley has disappeared. Along with himself soon after investigating.

Michael Bradford has created a world with strange creatures and even stranger customs. The tale is suspenseful and just scary enough to engage the older readers as well. There were many points in the story that I even felt to be very squeamish and almost brutal in a way. I loved the rich, atmospheric setting.

I feel like the end didn't wrap up as tightly as I would have liked but it was still a very strong and fleshed out story! I can see this book being a gem for the right reader.
Profile Image for Sandra Stiles.
Author 1 book69 followers
February 15, 2015
Dekker and his little sister Riley have temporarily moved to Button Hill while their mom is taking college classes at night. They assume they are going to be bored out of their minds living with their Aunt Primrose. She is old, smelly and weird. But, things take a drastic turn when Dekker finds an old clock made out of bones, with a skull for a face in his aunt’s basement. His first mistake was moving the skull face. His aunt has told him not to touch it. When he locks his sister in the basement while playing a game, thing go from bad to worse. When she doesn’t respond to him he goes into the basement and finds the old well is now open and his sister is gone. He goes down the well only to find his sister, his neighbor Harper who he kind of likes, and someone who wants to replace him in his world named Cobb. Dekker and Riley have traveled from Dayside to Nightside. Dayside is where the living are, and nightside is where the dead are. Harper has lived in both places. In Nightside, making a bargain can have severe consequences as Dekker and his sister both find out. Will they be able to escape Nightside? Will their Aunt Primrose be able to help? This was a wonderful book. It was fun to read and creepy at the same time. This is a story of friendship, family, love and sacrifice. It is the type of book I know my students will love.

I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.
Profile Image for Kimberly Atwood.
4 reviews2 followers
July 9, 2021
The book started very fast and jumped right into the action. It doesn't give the readers a lot of time to get used to Dekker and Riley. Dekker and Harper become friends very quickly, which felt a little unrealistic to me. The plot was fascinating, and I found myself hooked, eager to find out if Dekker and Riley will make it out of Nightside. I wanted to see more of Aunt Primrose. For being the keeper of the Nightclock and monitoring both Dayside and Nightside, I expected her to have a more important role. Cobb was downright terrifying, as he should be. I loved watching Riley grow more confident and stronger over the course of the story. I did find both her and Dekker to be somewhat dry characters, though. I would have loved to see more personality in each of them. It was good to see the development in Dekker throughout and to watch him learn to appreciate Riley. The ending felt abrupt to me, and it didn't provide much closure. I wanted to see them reconnect with Aunt Primrose and explain to their mother. The fact that the skin on Dekker's arm doesn't grow back feels odd to me. Is he really going to live the rest of his life with the bones of his forearm glistening in the sun? Overall I enjoyed the book, and appreciated how clever Dekker and Riley are. For a first novel, I feel Bradford did well.
Profile Image for Sherrie.
1,481 reviews
February 3, 2015
I received an advance readers copy of Button Hill through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program. Dekker and Riley are less than thrilled at the prospect of spending the summer with their strict Great Aunt Primrose while their mom, a single parent, works and attends college classes. Dekker, who lacks discipline stumbles across a mysterious clock in the basement and is warned by his aunt not to touch it, of course he does, which begins a struggle between good and evil as the thin veil between Dayside and Nightside slides open. The initial pace of the book was rather slow and I thought I would struggle to finish this book but about a third of the way in it started to become interesting. Button Hill is a largely atmospheric book with great world building and wonderfully macabre descriptions but short on character development. That being said I think the middle grade target audience will love the descriptive language the uncomplicated plot and the gory details. I liked all those things as well but wanted characters that were more fully fleshed out. Overall this was a good read and I liked it enough that I would check out other books from this author.
Profile Image for Jana Scott Lindsay.
33 reviews2 followers
May 24, 2015
I am not sure where to start...

I will try to limit my spoilers to a minimum.

This book is a breath of fresh air when it comes to storytelling and crafting an adventure. I was hooked almost immediately by the excitement and fear that was brilliantly woven and spun by the author. I had shivers as the main characters found themselves in more than their fair share of unsavoury situations. Some of the most spectacular writing I have come across since reading J.K. Rowling's tale of Harry Potter & his adventures.

Michael Bradford is more than a gifted storyteller, he has the ability to write in such a way that you find yourself holding your breath. Waiting & wondering how each time both Riley & Dekker are able to masterfully avoid a most certain perile. The care and attention to detail as they move between Dayside & Nightside and come into contact with the most surreal characters.

I am beyond thrilled to share his masterfully crafted tale with so many students in our learning community... and wait with baited breath to hear what happens next

Profile Image for Mellanie C.
3,008 reviews3 followers
January 25, 2020
I really liked this. It was very reminiscent of Coraline, by Neil Gaiman. Lots of action, a little creepiness, and engaging characters. I would love to read a sequel, because I don't think Bradford completely mined the universe of Button Hill--I think Dekker, Riley, and Harper have lots more stories to tell.
12 reviews
March 3, 2018
very good, it's grim, yet so good, it focuses on a kid, and is marketed to a kid audience, but a lot of scary stuff rests in its pages. nightside is fascinating, and the cliff-thing inside nightside is pretty cool. it's very good, and ranger can be funny. cobb is scary, and harper is mysterious.
Profile Image for Jennifer Bowman.
11 reviews2 followers
January 19, 2015
I had been looking forward to reading Button Hill and was so excited when I won an ARC. The premise sounded promising: Dekker and his sister are spending the summer with their rather unpleasant aunt. When Dekker stumbles upon a grandfather clock in the basement with a skull face, he sets in motion a series of events that lands him in a different world of Nightside.

The book actually garnered 3.5 stars from me. I thought that the storyline was original and there were a lot of fun elements: skeletons, zombies, Blood Knights, talking dogs, green tomatoes. I absolutely loved Dekker's little sister, Riley. She was sweet and endearing and such a fun little girl. The story kept me engaged and I finished it quickly.

However, a few things didn't work for me: While I loved Riley, the rest of the characters felt pretty flat. Aunt Primrose was just unpleasant, even after Dekker learns the secret she's been hiding. I don't mind unpleasant characters but they usually have some little quirks or something that make them interesting at least. Hazel didn't have much of a personality and even though she "redeemed" herself at the end, she just felt shallow. Dekker was hard for me to like and root for. He wasn't very nice to anyone at the beginning, and though he changes throughout the story, I just didn't connect with him. The lack of a bond between reader and characters made the story fall short for me. Riley really was the only saving grace.

The story also felt disjointed. We find things out at odd times and in unbelievable ways. If Aunt Primrose knew bad things would happen if Dekker messed with the clock, why wouldn't she have done something more drastic, like padlocking the room it was in? And, I feel like the kids really don't solve any problems themselves. They are usually given information or solutions by other characters in random ways.

From the way Button Hill ends, it seems like this is the beginning of a series. I hope that the characters get fleshed out more in the second book (Dekker needs this in more ways than one! - you probably won't get this until you finish the book :) ).
Profile Image for Liza.
370 reviews3 followers
February 19, 2015
Dekker and his sister Riley have to spend the summer with their aunt Primrose, who they think is a little weird. They want to go home. But they are stuck in Button Hill and have to try to find ways to entertain themselves. And that's when Dekker unknowingly opens a door to a world no one has crossed into for a long time. The Nightclock had stopped working and closed the way to Nightside, the dark world under Dayside. After the door is opened, Riley is kidnapped and taken to Nightside, where everyone is dead and Riley has little chance of making it home by herself, because she is still alive. Dekker has to go to Nightside to save his sister, but his heart is stolen in the process and he must fight to stay human long enough to rescue Riley, retrieve his heart, and get them both home before it is too late. Button Hill feels like a cross between Coraline and A Series of Unfortunate Events - heavier on the Coraline, with the other, dark world. I liked the characters and the trials they had to go through to accomplish their goals. This was a fun story that had a good pace and clearly defined characters; you know who is the good guy and the bad guy, except for one surprise. A quick, good read!
Profile Image for Nikki in Niagara.
3,866 reviews122 followers
April 3, 2015
I enjoyed this horror/fantasy for middle graders. An exciting tale that has a brother and sister involved in the Underworld and afterlife risking their very own life force and in one case beating heart. I was quite pleasantly surprised at the amount of horror in a book for this age group. It gets pretty scary (and a little gruesome) at times but always remains age appropriate. The characters are realistic and likeable with the brother and sister behaving like real siblings having an antagonizing relationship yet one based on love at the heart. The secondary characters are a motley crew and I especially enjoyed Aunt Primrose, the keeper of Dayside. The author's mythos of his imaginary world does have quite a few holes that keep it from holding together under scrutiny; I kept finding myself asking questions as to how this would apply to the supposed entire afterworld it occasionally refers to, but it is an intriguing story nevertheless. The ending is conclusive and yet it is has left an opening for a sequel. I found it a fast read that kept me turning the pages and would certainly recommend for those looking for something scary but appropriate for this age group. A fun read.
Profile Image for Ess.
1 review
March 4, 2015
"Button Hill" from Orca Books feels like the beginning of a journey by rail: Anticipation as the wheels start to move, surprise at what we see revealed by new perspective on a familiar landscape, and shivery excitement at what unexpected moment might be just around the bend. Skeleton clans, a talking raven, ghost trains and a not-quite zombie hero with a heart of gold...middle-year book lovers looking for a different take on how the known and unknown worlds fit together will dig into this spooky/fun read. Vivid writing from first-time author Michael Bradford gives "Button Hill" a cinematic feel. Perhaps we'll see a version of this story on the screen someday. Can't wait for part two. Quoth the raven, "What's not to like?" Good stuff, Orca.
6 reviews
March 2, 2015
Button Hill is a debut novel by Canadian author Michael Bradford. I graciously received this ARC and was really excited to read a genre that I normally do not gravitate towards! I was pleasantly surprised to find myself liking this story. I found it to be a bit of a cross between Coraline and an episode of the Twilight Zone. Creepy and filled with secrets, mystery and tension. The interaction & relationship between brother and sister develop well. However the relationship between Harper and her mother seems a bit ill-conceived. This narrative does move at a quick pace which will keep the reader engaged until the end!
A Recommended middle-grade read!
Profile Image for Colette.
275 reviews2 followers
June 13, 2016
Inventive, ominous and foreboding, this novel is for middle grade readers who enjoy a story like Coraline. Dekker and his younger sister Riley are spending the summer in Button Hill while their mother is taking classes and working. Button Hill's dark secret is that it lies on the border between Dayside (for the living) and Nightside (for the dead). As any boy would, Dekker become curious about the skull faced clock in the basement and unwittingly opens the doorways between the worlds thus getting himself and Riley into a lot of trouble. The imaginative setting and dramatic plot will appeal to readers who love a good thriller.
Profile Image for Kari (BookandCoffeeLover).
112 reviews27 followers
February 4, 2015
A charming book about a boy's journey to save his sister and himself. Quirky characters and astounding situations makes this a fast enjoyable read. I did find the pace to be a bit rushed at times;but I believe this quick pace will be perfect for younger readers and will utterly captivate them. Humorous and dark in equal measure, Button Hill is a solid adventure

Originally posted on LibraryThing (x)
Profile Image for Maria.
699 reviews42 followers
May 6, 2015
Dekker and his little sister, Riley, are at his Aunt's house for the summer. There are strange things going on and he ends up sort of dead. Dekker may even be one the the bone men. They must find his heart and reopen the train station.

This is a macabre adventure that may not be for everyone. If your kid gets easily scared or grossed out then they may not enjoy. But it is a great introdution to horror stories to come.

I received a copy through Goodreads First Reads.
Profile Image for Phoebe Dunn.
4 reviews
April 19, 2023
This is a book I could read a million times over and only get sick of it at the millionth time. Everything falls in line perfectly, and there were various moments where my mouth dropped open in shock. When Dekker’s heart gets ripped out, that just caught me by pure surprise.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Displaying 1 - 23 of 23 reviews

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