Hi there, welcome to this month of ghosts, creepy crawlies and everything horror!! This first post features an entertaining set of books by best-selling Chris Grabenstein on ghosts and ghouls! Spoiler Alert: If you are not a fan of horror, mystery and gore, best to avoid this one, as it has them all mixed in with a decent dosage of humour. Also, not for night time reading, unless it’s your thing; then by all means please read on!!
Titles: The Crossroads, The Hanging Hill, The Smoky Corridor, The Black Heart Crypt
Author: Chris Grabenstein
Genre: Fiction – Horror
Publication details: Random House; NY; 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
What these books are about: We meet Zack Jennings in The Crossroads for the first time. He is an average kid with a hardworking father, a new stepmother, a new dog, Zipper and a new home in North Chester, Connecticut. Things are looking up for Zack. Except he is in for one massive nasty surprise, North Chester is home to a really nasty ghost. A ghost who kills people. And Zack is on his list. In the second installment, The Hanging Hill, Zack’s staying at the Hanging Hill Summer Theatre, where they are doing a show based on a book by his celebrity author-stepmom, Judy. Zack has even become friends with the show’s stars: major movie actress Meghan McKenna, who is pretty cool and TV sensation Derek Stone, who can be kind of a jerk. Still Zack knows it’s going to be a great summer. What Zack doesn’t know is that the director has another show in mind, and that production requires a child born under a full moon. A child who will not survive opening night. And Zack? He was born under a full moon. Zack is about to start at his new school in the third story, The Smoky Corridor, and his dad, who went there years before, tells Zack the stories of the haunted janitor’s closet, the specter of a dead crossing guard, and the Donnelly brothers, who perished in a suspicious fire. Dad doesn’t know that Zack has already met the Donnellys’ ghosts, who have warned Zack that there is an evil zombie under the school. Zack also learns that while zombies are usually content eating corpses, if they happen to bite someone who isn’t dead, that person also becomes a zombie. Before midterms, Zack is dealing with two zombies, while trying to protect a friend whose curiosity has put him on the zombies’ menu. In the fourth book, Black Heart Crypt, we meet Zack on Halloween; which is all about dressing up, eating candy, carving pumpkins, and going to parties. Most kids’ favourite day of the year. Not for Zack Jennings as he knows that on Halloween, the divide between the ghostly plane and the human one is very narrow. Powerful sprites can cross over and do some serious mischief. He’s going to play it safe – stay with friends in a crowd of people. Unfortunately for Zack, a nasty clan of ghosts by the name of Ickleby has a grudge against the Jennings family, and the leader of this clan is powerful enough to kill – even in a crowd. Chris Grabenstein delivers again a spine-tingling, laugh-inciting thriller as Zack tries to protect his friends and family from the evil within the Ickleby family crypt.
My review: A spine-tingling mystery series that would keep you gasping as you flick from chapter to chapter. Quite fast paced and action-packed with some pretty gruesome stuff!! Although the cast of characters are quirky and funny, all the stories are filled with gut-wrenching murder and plenty of mystery. All the books read quite a bit like a horror movie. I loved all the characters, especially those of Judy and Zack. Chris Grabenstein expertly weaved the whole cast of players from all directions and in a dramatic finale untangled the plot in an explosive and quirky narrative.
There’s a fair bit of death involved with a whole lot of gruesome scenes so I guess boys would be better fans of this series rather than girls. I made the mistake of reading it at night and it had me jumping at my own shadow!! So, if you are like me, DON’T read at night!! However, it’s the ultimate scary story for lovers of the genre!!
My rating: 4 ⭐ ( – 1 because it was too scary for me!!)
A quick note: The Crossroads was awarded the Anthony Award for Best Children’s/Young Adult novel in 2009 and the Agatha Award for Mystery in 2008.
2 thoughts on “A Haunted Mystery series by Chris Grabenstein”
If you’re looking for “horror” for tween readers, I highly recommend A TALE DARK AND GRIMM by Adam Gidwitz!
Thanks for that suggestion!! Sounds like a good one!!