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The Most Frightening Story Ever Told

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  145 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Roald Dahl meets R. L. Stine in this spine-tingling and hilarious tale from a bestselling author!

Billy Shivers doesn't have a lot of excitement in his life. He prefers to spend his days reading alone in the Hitchcock Public Library. So it is a bit out of character when he finds himself drawn to the Haunted House of Books, and a competition daring readers to survive an e
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published September 6th 2016 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  145 ratings  ·  39 reviews

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Cameron Chaney
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spooky, middle-grade, 2018
A haunted bookstore that carries only horror stories and books about the macabre? Set in a town called Hitchcock? I'm in!

As a lover of books, indie bookshops, and all things spooky, you can imagine I had high hopes for The Most Frightening Story Ever Told, a middle-grade story about a young boy named Billy Shivers who, after a car accident leaves him in poor health, finds comfort in the local Haunted House of Books. He spends day after day in this store, reading ghost stories and getting to know
Maritina Mela
The Most Frightening Story Ever Told is a middle grade book about a boy named Billy, who, after surviving a car crash, spends all of his time reading books. He particularly enjoys books about the supernatural and horror.
One day, he befriends Rapscallion, the middle aged owner of the only bookshop in their neighborhood.

Rapscallion has basically spent all of his life savings to built a bookshop filled only with horror books, in the style of a haunted mansion and because no one buys books anymore,
Justin Langlois
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
One of my favorite kids books in a while. It ranks right up there with The Graveyard Book for me and I am a huge Gaiman fan. The names of the characters are hilarious and the Poe references are spot on. Billy Shivers is a very...unique protagonist. You won't be disappointed!
Jenni Frencham
Jul 01, 2016 rated it did not like it
I'm not even going to bother with a full review on this one. Here are my objections:

1. The main character decides not to spend time in the library because he has to be absolutely silent there or the librarian with shush him. Really, people, can we get beyond the shushing librarian trope?

2. The narrator (who is not the main character) constantly beats into the reader's head that people, particularly kids, do not read. Most of the books in the library are supposedly "never touched" by anyone, oth
Suzanne Maley
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
What a surprise ending! I never expected the ending so I will not spoil it for anyone who wants to read this book. There are a few places where it drags but it's well worth pushing through to the end.
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
Sort of a spooky version of Mr. Lemoncello's Library. Not really very scary and a bit wordy in places, especially when the author indulges himself and includes "songs" that the main character has written. A good story nonetheless.
Mar 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
I wasn't very impressed in the beginning. It was going to be 3 stars. Then some scary stories started appearing (as books the main character read) and they were good, so it became 3.5 stars. I decided to give 4 because of the ending.

This is a children's book, for let's say 12 years old. It is about a boy that starts hanging out in a bookstore with scary books. I have to say I didn't really like the description of the bookstore, the scary stuff, it was hard to visualize them and that's what made
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The ending was completely unexpected did not think it was going to end that way!!!!!!
Ronaldo Tenorio
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I really enjoyed this book! I picked it up as a cute middle-grade spooky story for Halloween (and I just got to it) and I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed.

I loved Philip Kerr’s writing style, it was comical and easy to follow. I never felt like the book lacked any sort of flow. While I wouldn’t say that his writing style is the conventional way of writing it was certainly entertaining! Plus there is stories within stories and I adore that!

I really loved the main character Billy in this book
Naim Fazrin
Dec 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: philipkerr
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Juvi Ahmed
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory meets Tim Burton with a splash of Edgar Allen Poe. The first half of the novel was a bit slow but the second half was a page turner. If you haven’t read this book, pick it up right now, like seriously! Even though the book is middle grade it is extremely entertaining for all ages. I could not put it down and the ending, I was not expecting it at all. In some ways these book can be considered coming of age, the main character goes through a full c ...more
Apr 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars - I liked the setting a lot...who wouldn't want to visit a haunted bookstore? But a lot of the nods to other horror stories would have gone right over the heads of the intended audience (at least I hope they havent seen the Shining and the like). Definitely put me in the mood for a scary story - though this one itself wasnt quite frightening.
Alice Kuhn
Dec 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"Scary-story enthusiast Billy Shivers helps out when the Haunted House of Books threatens to go out of business"-- Provided by publisher. Just loved this book. The scary stories on the side would be perfect for any campfire. Great book for 5th grade and up.
Jul 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
at first i would rate it with 3 because even though it is a quite enjoyable book you can read, something was missing. After finishing it i rate it with a 4 because of the amazing plot twist at the end. Great book to relax and calm your mind
Mar 16, 2020 rated it liked it
It wasn't what I was expected, but it did not let me down. I liked a lot the passion of one of the characters to keep the love of books alive for the young generation. It was a quick and interesting read overall.
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fun. Fun. Fun. A quirky well-written spooky story that I would hand to any kid who likes a good ghost story.
Ms. Yingling
Jul 23, 2016 rated it liked it
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Billy Shivers is recuperating from a bad car accident, and his family doesn't have a lot of money. He loves to read, and spends a fair amount of time in the public library, but there are a limited amount of the ghost books that he loves to read. When he finds The Haunted House of Books, he tries to ingratiate himself to the difficult owner, Mr. Rapscallion, so that he can read books in the store. He manages to come to an agreement with the owner, but busine
Angela Barbee
Sep 22, 2016 rated it did not like it
1.5 stars. Meh is how i felt the whole story
Although I guessed the ending of this book pretty early on, I did enjoy parts of it, especially the scary stories that were included, one presumably by the great Edgar Allan Poe. The author has cleverly inserted insider references to masters of horror, including the very name of the town where the story takes place--Hitchcock. The action revolves around a lonely boy, Billy Shivers, who spends much of his time reading in the local library. When he happens upon a flyer for the Haunted House of Boo ...more
Since his accident, Billy Shivers has read just about every book in the children’s section of the Hitchcock Public Library, so he’s delighted and amazed when he walks into the Haunted House of Books. Not only is it stocked full of every kind of scary story from ghosts to vampires—Billy’s favorite books—but the owner, Mr. Rapscallion, has tucked magical sleight of hand tricks and booby traps into every dark corner of the old bookstore. Billy’s even more thrilled when Mr. Rapscallion reveals a tre ...more
Adam James
Oct 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
The Most Frightening Story Ever Told is a pretty strange book.
Not because it's creepy, or scary, or unsettling...but because Philip Kerr doesn't seem to know what kind of story he's trying to write.
Is it a goofy Roald Dahl knockoff?
Is it pretend-scary like Goosebumps?
Is it a creepy novel ala Neil Gaiman?
Is it derivative of all these things?

To be fair, there are some clever bits in this book. Kerr throwing in a couple of "authentic" old creepy stories is a nice touch, even though it might tu
Rheetha Lawlor
Oct 01, 2016 rated it liked it
A young tattered boy finds refuge in a bookshop which sells only paranormal books. During his "internship" there we read about other fascinating stories and facts such as lost stories written by Poe, and the history of Frankenstein. In the meantime, a contest a la Willy Wonka style is given to encourage young students to revive the power of reading and to save the bookstore from closing its doors forever.

While this is definitely a middle grade book, there are some incredible nuggets of facts an
Oct 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Originally, I picked up this book for my son because, like the main character (another Billy), he really likes to read. But I tore through this before he even had a chance. Calling it a cross between Roald Dahl and R.L. Stine isn't too far off the mark. My first thought was actually Louis Sachar, but still.

I can't say that the story scared me, and I had pretty well guessed the ending, though there were some creepy parts and the story was very good.. However, the Author's Note at the end I read r
Baker St Shelves
Dec 24, 2016 rated it liked it
For the most part, it's okay. I think the writer went too far delving into Dahl's writing style. So much so that this book could easily be compared to Charlie&the Chocolate Factory. That being said, I like the tone and characters, even if they were a little cheesy at times. Although I will say that I didn't see the twist coming at the end! A good one shot that is a good combination of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Graveyard Book. ...more
T.J. Burns
I received a copy of this book from Random House Children's Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Dec 12, 2016 rated it liked it
The book was nice, but kinda slow. The mini stories weren't scary at all especially "new shoes" I seriously don't get it. The ending did shock me though I'll have to admit.
Miranda Paris
Jan 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scary-stories
BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR! If you appreciate a good ghost story and have a sense of humor, this should be at the top of your list. I dare you not to love this story!
Apr 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: nkyclear
In spite of its great twist ending, this book is too lengthy and sometimes too old-fashioned to appeal to many of today’s readers. Kerr obviously draws inspiration from a number of masters of horror, ranging from Poe to Shelley. He also draws heavily on Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: the wacky bookstore and its curmudgeonly and opinionated owner, the contest for five children to hear The Most Frightening Story Ever Told (who turn out to be terrible caricatures of people with pun ...more
Sep 23, 2018 added it
Shelves: dnf
Dnf. I was enjoying it until the short story interludes. While I understood the significance of them, I thought they distracted from the momentum of the main story.
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Philip Kerr was a British author. He was best known for his Bernie Gunther series of 13 historical thrillers and a children's series, Children of the Lamp, under the name P.B. Kerr.

Librarian’s note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

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