Monday, February 18, 2013

Haunting of Derek Stone Review

The Eulogy (From the Publisher):
Could the road to the afterlife be a two-way street?
Derek Stone just turned fourteen. He's lived in the heart of New Orleans with his dad and older brother, Ronny, his whole life. He's a little overweight. He can't hear well out of his left ear.
Oh, and he's on the run from the dead.
Derek never imagined that the dead could be anything but dead. But there's no denying it. They're back -- and they're after him.
He just doesn't know why.
And he doesn't have long to figure it out.

In a Nutshell: A great series for less than confident readers 11+ who don't like their horror dumbed down.

Dearly Departed,
We are gathered here today to discuss City of the Dead by Tony Abbott. I wasn’t expecting to love this book, but then, love can sometimes take you unawares. This tale of a boy grieving for his family in the aftermath of a terrible train accident was surprisingly very scary. I say surprisingly, because I’d already judged this book on looks alone – because of the length I thought it might be some watered down horror for younger readers. Not so. 

When Derek’s brother reappears after supposedly being killed, he thinks it’s a dream come true. But the problem is, the person who came back wasn’t his brother – somebody else has possessed him. And for me, that was the truly terrifying part, the fact that your world can be broken, your hopes raised again and then smashed once more. The evil spirits in this book felt much grittier than your usual “bothersome but otherwise harmless” ghosts that you’ll often see in books for this age group, and I think a lot of that came from the atmosphere the New Orleans setting gives it. 

This isn’t a new book, so it’s unlikely to suddenly become a bestseller, but I wish it had garnered more attention here in Australia upon its release. One of the biggest problems for horror kidlit is that it’s not scary enough – the kids are crying out for more, but the adult guardians feel the need to hold back. Books like this are the perfect balance, especially for those reluctant older readers in the 11+ category who aren’t looking for an overly long read. The other thing stacked against it is the quality of the book’s production – Scholastic US titles are notorious for being printed on cheap paper with thin covers, which will often put Australian readers off (that, and the fact that the author has the same name as our odious opposition leader). But I urge you to look past all these things and not judge this book by its cover like I did, because you’ll find a delightfully scary read inside which is sure to appeal to your young horror fan.

For Readers: I’d go as young as 10, but I feel this is mostly for slightly older readers who are looking for a short read. 

For Writers: Read it for the creepy atmosphere, especially the very tense accident scene at the start.

1 comment:

  1. I really like this because it is exciting and suspenseful. I've recommended it to kids looking for a scare. :)