Rees, Celia 1949-

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Rees, Celia 1949-


Born June 17, 1949, in Solihull, West Midlands, England; daughter of Wilfred (a school headmaster) and Lilla (a homemaker) Taylor; married Terence Rees (a lecturer), July 15, 1972; children: Catrin. Education: Warwick University, B.A. (with honors), 1971; West Midlands College, postgraduate certificate in education, 1972; Birmingham University, M.Ed., 1985. Hobbies and other interests: Cinema, swimming, yoga, reading.


Home—Milverton, Warwickshire, England. Agent—Rosemary Sandberg, 6 Bayley St., London WC1B 3HB, England. E-mail—[email protected].


Secondary school English teacher in Coventry, England, 1973-89; part-time college lecturer in English and the media in Coventry, 1990-97; Warwick University Open Studies, Warwick, England, creative writing tutor, 1997—.


Stockport Children's Book Award, 2001, for Truth or Dare; Whitbread Children's Book Award shortlist, 2002, for Sorceress.



Every Step You Take, Pan Books (London, England), 1993.

The Bailey Game, Pan Books (London, England), 1994.

Colour Her Dead, Pan Books (London, England), 1994.

Blood Sinister ("Point Horror" series; also see below), Scholastic (London, England), 1996.

Soul Taker, Hodder Children's Books (London, England), 1997.

The Vanished ("Point Horror" series), Hodder Children's Books (London, England), 1997.

Midnight Hour, Macmillan (London, England), 1997.

Ghost Chamber, Hodder Children's Books (London, England), 1997.

The Cunning Man ("Point Horror" series), Scholastic (London, England), 2000.

Witch Child, Bloomsbury Children's Books (London, England), 2000, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2001.

The Truth Out There, Dorling Kindersley (New York, NY), 2000, published as Truth or Dare, Macmillan Children's Books (London, England), 2000.

(With Richie Tankersley Cusick) Decayed: Ten Years of Point Horror (includes Blood Sinister), Scholastic (London, England), 2001.

Sorceress (sequel to Witch Child), Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2002.

Blood Sinister, Scholastic (London, England), 2002.

Pirates!: The True and Remarkable Adventures of Minerva Sharpe and Nancy Kington, Female Pirates, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2003.

The Wish House, Young Picador (London, England), 2005, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2006.

Also contributor to FCBG Anthology 2002: Heroes and Villains, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 2002. Rees's works have been translated into twelve languages.


H Is for Haunting, Hodder Children's Books (London, England), 1998.

A Is for Apparition, Hodder Children's Books (London, England), 1998.

U Is for Unbeliever, Hodder Children's Books (London, England), 1998.

N Is for Nightmare, Hodder Children's Books (London, England), 1998.

T Is for Terror, Hodder Children's Books (London, England), 1998.

S Is for Shudder, Hodder Children's Books (London, England), 1998.

City of Shadows (contains H Is for Haunting and A Is for Apparition), Hodder Children's Books (London, England), 2002.

A Trap in Time (contains U Is for Unbeliever and N Is for Nightmare), Hodder Children's Books (London, England), 2002.

The Host Rides Out (contains T Is for Terror and S Is for Shudder), Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 2002.


Pirates! was adapted as a sound recording, Listening Library, 2004; a play adaptation of Witch Child is in the planning stages.


Though she had been publishing young adult novels in her native England since the early 1990s, British author Celia Rees first gained attention in the United States with the 2001 release of Witch Child. Since then, she has continued to gain popularity on both sides of the Atlantic for historical, fantasy, and horror adventures aimed at younger readers. Originally a secondary school English teacher, Rees was well familiar with the types of books her students enjoyed reading. She emulated the styles of such writers as Judy Blume, R.L. Stine, and Robert Cormier to tackle her first novel, Every Step You Take, which blends thriller and horror elements. Rees followed this up with the ghost stories The Bailey Game, Colour Her Dead, and Blood Sinister, the last of these part of the immensely popular "Point Horror" series to which authors such as Stine contributed.

Rees also emulated Stine when she embarked on her "HAUNTS" series, which many critics compared to Stine's "Goosebumps" series. Rees's "HAUNTS," however, is limited to six books featuring the same characters. Originally released in 1998, the novels were reprinted in 2002 as a trilogy that includes City of Shadows, A Trap in Time, and The Host Rides Out. The series follows four children who find themselves in a world populated by good and evil ghosts, as well as fairies ruled by a wicked Fairy Queen. Deirdre B. Root, writing in Kliatt, described the books as "fast-paced and entertaining stories." Root added that "the characters are engaging and overall this is a good series." A Kirkus Reviews writer noted that Rees "skillfully maintains an atmosphere of menace" and brings about a "pat, but ultimately satisfying" conclusion.

Stories set in the past are one of Rees's specialties, and she gained many fans with Witch Child and its sequel, Sorceress. Set in the seventeenth century, these works are about a young girl named Mary, who must flee England for the Puritan colonies of America after her grandmother is killed for being a witch. Mary herself is a witch, but she tries to keep her identity a secret while she lives among the Puritans. Despite her efforts, her attraction to Jaybird, the grandson of a Native American healer, puts her at risk. In Sorceress, readers learn of Mary's later life after marrying Jaybird through the eyes of a modern-day relative. Agnes is one of Mary and Jaybird's descendants, and in her desire to learn more about her ancestry she goes on a spirit quest and experiences the life of four hundred years ago through Mary's eyes. Some critics of Witch Child found the diary device used by Rees to be somewhat contrived. However, many also had praise for the realistic details and strong characters. School Library Journal writer Kathleen Isaacs felt that "the historical setting is sound and well developed" in Witch Child. Isaacs added that "Mary is an entirely believable character." "Witch Child is a powerful tale of desperate times," concluded Jan Nawoj in the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. "It is a compelling, unforgettable novel." Critics considered the sequel a more complex work, but Jane G. Connor asserted in a School Library Journal review that "Rees manages to carry all of this off through her strong writing style and well-developed characters."

Other popular tales by Rees include the award-winning Truth or Dare (published in the United States as The Truth Out There) and the more recent historical adventure Pirates!: The True and Remarkable Adventures of Minerva Sharpe and Nancy Kington, Female Pirates. The former novel, which in the U.S. edition has a misleading cover featuring an alien, is actually a realistic story. It concerns a young boy who discovers that his uncle, whom he believed dead, was actually committed to a mental institution at a time when his autism was not well understood. The boy begins to dig into the truth after he suspects that his uncle helped write a futuristic video game. Covering a wide range of family issues in The Truth Out There, "Rees does a marvelous job of injecting an atmosphere of mystery and uncertainty into the novel from the beginning," according to Leah J. Sparks in the School Library Journal. Pirates! is a swashbuckling adventure about a young woman named Nancy Kington who joins a pirate crew to avoid being married to an evil former buccaneer named Bartholome. While a Publishers Weekly critic felt the story's characters suffered from "one dimensionality," Claire Rosser of Kliatt asserted that Rees "makes this world of pirates absolutely real." Rosser also appreciated the author's efforts in addressing "the plight of slaves and women" in her narrative.



Booklist, November 1, 2000, Catherine Andronik, review of The Truth Out There, p. 541; October 15, 2001, Frances Bradburn, review of Witch Child, p. 389; January 1, 2003, Frances Bradburn, review of Sorceress, p. 871; December 15, 2003, Gillian Engberg, review of Pirates!: The True and Remarkable Adventures of Minerva Sharpe and Nancy Kington, Female Pirates, p. 749; January 1, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of The Soul Taker, p. 860; September 1, 2004, Ilene Cooper, "Ship Ahoy!," review of Pirates!, p. 121; September 1, 2006, Frances Bradburn, review of The Wish House, p. 111.

Horn Book, September, 2001, review of Witch Child, p. 592.

Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, April, 2003, Jan Nawoj, review of Witch Child, p. 607.

Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2003, review of A Trap in Time, p. 65; August 1, 2006, review of The Wish House, p. 795.

Kliatt, November, 2002, Claire Rosser, review of Sorceress, p. 14; March, 2003, Deirdre B. Root, reviews of City of Shadows, A Trap in Time, and The Host Rides Out, p. 36; July, 2003, Claire Rosser, review of Sorceress, p. 26; September, 2003, Claire Rosser, review of Pirates!, p. 11; March, 2004, Erin Lukens Darr, review of The Soul Taker, p. 27.

Publishers Weekly, June 25, 2001, review of Witch Child, p. 73; August 26, 2002, "Encore Performance," review of Sorceress, p. 70; December 2, 2002, review of City of Shadows, p. 53; October 20, 2003, review of Pirates!, p. 55; October 3, 2005, "Fiction Reprints," review of Pirates!, p. 73; August 14, 2006, review of The Wish House, p. 207.

School Library Journal, October, 2000, Leah J. Sparks, review of The Truth Out There, p. 170; August, 2001, Kathleen Isaacs, review of Witch Child, p. 188; December, 2002, Jane G. Connor, review of Sorceress, p. 146; October, 2003, Steven Engelfried, review of Pirates!, p. 175; October, 2006, B. Allison Gray, review of The Wish House, p. 166.


Book Bag, (March 26, 2007), Jill Murphy, review of Ghost Chamber.

Celia Rees Home Page, (March 26, 2007).

Celia Rees Home Page, United Kingdom, (March 26, 2007.