A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Strangers features dark magic and a haunted house. Olive is followed by a costumed ghoul at a school dance, has her parents kidnapped, and must handle a few face-offs with nemesis Annabelle McMartin, a dead witch who's come back to life as a painting, and who threatens to trap Olive in a painting all by herself. Also: A painted character is burned out of existence in a fireplace, a child recalls being stabbed with a dagger, and Olive is haunted by the "shades" (ghost-like beings of the former McMartins that transform to wolves, sharks, and other scary creatures). Ultimately, readers learn about loyalty and the importance of sacrifice for the people you love. There's a strong message here about how important it is to have people (and cats!) in your life.
What's the story?
This installment of the spellbinding series begins, appropriately enough, on Halloween, as Olive takes her equally misfit friend Rutherford, Morton -- a little boy who lives in a painting in her haunted house -- and her three talking cats trick-or-treating at her new middle school. There, she thinks she's being followed by a ghoul. Is the ghost of Annabelle McMartin, the witch whose family owned her house for generations, after her? The tension only escalates when Olive returns home to find her parents kidnapped! Olive will have to be very brave to find them -- and eventually face off against evil Annabelle. And she'll have to figure out whom she can really trust.
Is it any good?
THE STRANGERS might be a hard volume for new readers to step into, but fans of the series will find the same slightly scary and ultimately winning formula here. The book is filled with funny characters, including misfit protagonist Olive, who once again finds incredible strength to save the people she loves, and three loyal and likable talking cats. This time around, there's also the addition of two really annoying experts form the magic community who say they have come to help Olive protect her home from the McMartins. But even with their help, Olive and the cats are in near constant peril as they search for Olive's missing parents in the neighborhood, Olive's house, and the magical paintings that take them to Elsewhere. Once the plot gets going, readers will enjoy putting the pieces together with the heroine (though they might figure it out a little faster).
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about scary stories. Why do we read spooky books and watch movies about haunted houses and creepy ghosts? What's appealing about these stories?
Do you think Olive has changed at all from how she was at the beginning of The Books of Elsewhere series? What do you think she learns in this installment?
Do you plan to read the fifth book in this series? What do you think will happen next?
- Author: Jacqueline West
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Dial Books
- Publication date: August 16, 2013
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 17
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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