Vivian Vande Velde,
All Hallows' Eve
(Harcourt, 2006; Houghton Mifflin, 2010)

It was when I reached the climax to "Morgan Roehmer's Boys" that I realized that Vivian Vande Velde's All Hallows' Eve was going to be a seriously creepy book.

The first two stories, "Come In & Rest a Spell" and "MARIAN," were spooky enough, I suppose. I mean, they didn't have me shivering in my PJs, but they were well-told, atmospheric Halloween yarns aimed at a young-adult crowd. But "Morgan Roehmer's Boys," while still age-appropriate, twisted sharply at the end and left an undeniable chill in its wake. The tale focuses on a young girl working the barn at a haunted hayride attraction that's built over the foundation of a serial killer's former home. Suffice it to say, someone is not yet at rest.

The stories that follow -- there are 13 in all -- are in a similar vein. The protagonists here are mostly young adults themselves, but don't make the mistake of thinking their youth will keep them all safe from the author's fiendish imagination.

None of these stories will send you shrieking from the room or turn your hair white with fright. But they're creepy enough to leave readers unsettled, maybe a bit disturbed, all the while admiring the author's well-crafted plots.

book review by
Tom Knapp

23 October 2010

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