Joey wouldn't mind spending Christmas in the hospital with his mom, who has a broken leg. He's a simple guy; all he needs is a tv to keep him happy. But his mom is convinced he'll be miserable, so she sends him off to his Aunt Corinne. But Christmas with Aunt Corinne is anything but merry. Still grieving for her drowned husband, living in the isolated and condemned house on the cliff she refuses to leave, Joey's aunt is a terryifing and pitiable figure. As dark and mysterious events unfold, Joey begins to wonder if he'll survive Christmas....
I was really interested in the description of Falcone's latest book, Walking With the Dead, and I saw something somewhere that said it was a series and this was the first. But that seems to be wrong, since this story has a definite (and terrifying) end and features different characters. Plus, the other one said it was funny. This isn't a funny story at all. There was a nice creepy build up and a genuinely terrifying ending, but it took too long to get there and I never really enjoyed the main character, Joey, a whiny tv addict with an odd obsession with witches. On the other hand, the reader can certainly see him as a real thirteen-old boy, completely obsessed with his own comfort and stuck in a really unpleasant and increasingly frightening situation. The ending was so horrifying that it seemed rather unbelievable, although I kind of saw it coming as soon as the mother-in-law Ruth was introduced. But it was definitely a scary story.
Verdict: If you have strong need for horror novels for youngers readers, this might be an acceptable purchase. Most of my patrons prefer shorter stories for their scary fare though.
ISBN: 978-1553373773; Published August 2003 by Kids Can Press (out of print); Borrowed from the library