This is my first time featuring a book on my blog. Hooray! I hope to have the opportunity to read and review many more kids books in the future.
(Spoiler Alert! I’m going to go into full detail describing this book. If you don’t want spoilers, don’t read beyond the next paragraph below.)
First off, I have to say how much I love the cover of this book. It’s the perfect combination of spooky and cute. The copyright page says it was done by KP Designs, which appears to be the publishing company. Kudos to them for making a thoroughly appealing illustration!
The book itself reads kind of like the classic 90’s kid show “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” A bunch of boys are getting together to roast marshmallows and tell spooky stories. Then a new kid shows up, a girl, and she wants to join their troupe.
The boys (unsurprisingly) decide to give her a shot, but she has to prove herself by telling a scary story worthy of their exclusive club.
The “real” story starts in chapter three. Sarah is going to school on a day when students shadow adults to learn about their careers. She gets stuck following a mail carrier and is quite the little snot about it. (She wanted to go with a magician instead.) She puts up a fuss and is incredibly rude helping “Chucky” deliver the mail until they get to the last street on the route, Zombie Lane.
Sarah and Chucky split up to finish delivering to the last street faster and that’s when the zombies start to show up. By this time, I was so fed up with Sarah’s snotty attitude, it was almost a relief to see her get tormented by the undead. Zombies appear around corners, a zombie squirrel shows up in a mailbox, green zombie arms dart out of mail slots to snatch at her, an old woman inviting her to tea suddenly turns into a zombie when she’s not looking, a crowd of zombie children converges on her out of the shadows.
All the while Chucky believes none of this is actually happening and accuses Sarah of making up stories, typical grown-up fashion.
After a while, Sarah wakes up and realizes that the whole fiasco was nothing but a bad dream. But then she goes to school and career shadow day starts all over again.
Once again, Sarah gets paired with Chucky and has to go on his mail route, all the while trying to get out of it. She refuses to split up with him on Zombie Lane, but she loses sight of him anyway and the zombies return to torment her once more.
She wakes up a second time and rolls over in bed, hoping the nightmare is finally all over. And she sees a zombified Chucky waiting for her. (Dun dun dunnnnn!)
Overall, the idea of the story is great. Are You Afraid of the Dark was one of my favorite spooky shows as a kid. I do have to say that the book starts off kind of slow. I wish the intro could be cut down to one chapter, with only the important characters described or introduced at all. I get that this is a series, so other characters probably come into play in other books. But it could easily just cut to the chase and get into the fun stuff. That’s what we want to read it for, after all.
And, while the scary story is great, it could use an editor to fix some of the wording, confused tenses, and confused point of view. I did get tripped up a bit when it slipped from past to present tense or a sentence described an exciting event in the passive voice. But I’m kinda finicky about things like that.
After the slow first chapters, I was worried that I wouldn’t like this story, but it did grow on me once I got into the meat of it. I think if it got polished up with some editing, it would be a worthy addition to my bookshelf.