What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that, while there's no graphic violence here, there are references to lots of deaths, some rather gruesome, such as being impaled by a tree limb. Also, the main character steals, though he later either pays for or returns what he has stolen.
What's the story?
When Zack's mean mother dies of cancer he thinks she may be haunting him, so he's relieved when his father moves him and his new, nice stepmother to Connecticut. But there he encounters lots more ghosts, all involved in a complicated mystery involving a fatal bus accident, a local grande dame in the Mrs. Havisham mold, and Zack's grandfather, who was the local sheriff at the time. And both living and dead may be looking to take their revenge on Zack.
Is it any good?
For the first half of the book, the story seems assembled more than written, like a paint-by-numbers kit. Mean ghosts appearing and disappearing, a graveyard, spooky trees, small-town secrets, short sentences, and short chapters with cliffhanger endings -- yup, the gang's all here, though a bit better written than R. L. Stine. Still, it does make one wonder why so many horror writers can't seem to come up with anything new.
In the second half the author does come up with something relatively new, and a lot more interesting: a complex mystery behind all the supernatural deja-vu. Alert young readers will see the surprise twist coming almost from the beginning, but they may not anticipate the positive effect all this trafficking with ghosts has on Zack's character, which, along with a refreshingly loving stepmother-stepson relationship, makes for a more than usually satisfying ending.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about why horror is so popular. What is the appeal? Why do people enjoy being scared? What is the fascination with ghosts? And why are they so often portrayed as evil?