A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Comments on the history of horror movies.
Stick close to your friends and family when trouble comes to town.
Positive Role Models
Archie Coomes is among the first to suspect that something is going wrong in Seaham. He mobilizes his friends to fight back when evil comes to town.
Violence & Scariness
Although it has some genuine scares, this book is aimed squarely at middle grade readers. A zebra gets cut in two. A boy faces off against an ancient evil. Parents are turned into "pod people." A villain is run over by a car. A 13-year-old boy is terrified when a naked woman, under the influence of an occult artifact, chases him through a forest.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Mild flirting that goes nowhere. A naked woman, under the influence of a supernatural artifact, chases a 13-year-old boy through the woods, in a non-erotic manner, making him cry.
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Insults and name-calling between brothers: Matthew nearly always calls Archie "bug."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Colin Meloy's The Stars Did Wander Darkling is a middle grade horror novel set in the 1980s. It involves 13-year-old Archie Coomes and his three friends trying to save their small Oregon town from an ancient evil unearthed by land developers -- including his dad -- and from strange adults in suits who don't seem quite human. There's a creepy atmosphere, genuine scares, and some violence: A zebra gets cut in two, a boy faces off against an ancient evil, parents become "pod people," and a villain is run over by a car. A 13-year-old boy is terrified when a naked woman, under the influence of an occult artifact, chases him through a forest.
Is It Any Good?
Good middle grade horror novels are hard to find, but this homage to 1980s cinematic and literary thrillers is clever and fun. Author Colin Meloy serves up a spooky sampling of creepy clichés -- from buried monsters to strange men in brown clothing. Anyone who likes Stephen King or Stranger Things will appreciate this send-up.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.