Mothman's Curse

Book review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Mothman's Curse Book Poster Image
Engrossing, fast-paced sci-fi/fantasy has haunting dilemmas.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The story is based on alleged Mothman sightings in Ohio during the mid-1960s, Story gives a glimpse of the auction house business.

Positive Messages

Strong messages about problem solving, having courage, facing your fears, and selflessness.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Josie is a smart, tenacious 12-year-old who ponders big questions, loves her family, and ultimately is willing to risk her life to save her family and others. Some of the family members are prone to sensationalizing the value of the auction items they sell to make money, but they mean well and are loyal and reliable as siblings. Parents are engaged and present. Some characters are otherwise simplistically good or evil.

Violence

A haunting, creepy figure called Mothman terrorizes and intimidates. A man holds a gun on a man and woman, forcing the woman to choose which of them will live; he shoots one of them dead. Multiple discussions of deaths from disasters over the previous century; a man falls and breaks his leg; a girl's leg is injured by falling debris; a ghost moves objects around a room; mention of a past suicide, but it's not explicitly described.

Sex
Language

"Skinny butt."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Mothman's Curse is an engrossing sci-fi/fantasy novel that reimagines the alleged Mothman sightings reported in Ohio during the mid-1960s, Here, three siblings discover the curse and try to solve its mystery and save their small Ohio town. There's suspense throughout, grief for a mother who passed away three years earlier, and a reference to a past suicide, but it's not explicitly described. In a flashback, a man holds a gun on a man and woman and forces the woman to choose which of them will live, then shoots one of them dead. But amid the hauntings, creepy old artifacts, and terrorizing Mothman character, the story celebrates problem solving and the value of selfless acts, and it presents fascinating moral and ethical dilemmas that will keep readers engaged throughout.

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What's the story?

Josie and her brothers help run their family's auction house, selling off curiosities new and old for the townspeople who believe their fair city is haunted. But when they find an old Polaroid that produces haunted pictures, they start to believe that the century-old rumors of a curse might be true. Soon they're knee-deep in a mystery involving the legend of Mothman and a ghost who warns of an impending disaster. Josie soon learns she's inherited the MOTHMAN'S CURSE and must make some difficult choices to protect the family and townspeople she loves, even if it means sacrificing herself.

Is it any good?

This engrossing, meticulously considered mystery with an ethical dilemma at its core takes a while to build up steam but ultimately will keep readers on the edges of their seats. The characters are clever and well-developed, and the family's close-knit loyalties and auction business (people who used to pretend things were haunted to make a buck now find themselves smack-dab in the middle of a real haunting) add a fresh perspective to the genre.

It's fun to see how the kids solve the mystery and plot their survival, but readers also can wrestle with an ethical dilemma that may reveal their own thoughts about what it means to love and protect those closest to us. Throughout the novel, various characters react differently to the choice to save others or themselves. In the end, readers will find they've flexed some thinking muscles they wouldn't have expected from a tale about a flying mothman.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about ghost stories. Why do you think they're so popular?

  • Mothman's Curse presents a moral or ethical dilemma with regard to the cost of saving others. Which option would you choose? Why, or why not?

  • What is the book's message about the dark power of holding grudges? Have you ever held a grudge? What was it about? How did it make you feel? Did you ever let go of it? If so, what was the outcome?

Book details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love science fiction and ghost stories

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