Friday, February 11, 2011

The Midnight Curse by L. M. Falcone

Charlie and Lacey are used to their life with no money. But they're still thrilled when their mom gets the news that their reclusive Great-uncle Jonathan has died and they may have been left something in his will. Despite Charlie's panic, they enjoy the trip to England...until they arrive at the strangely frightening mansion and almost immediately find themselves alone with a strange butler, ghosts, and a mysterious and terrifying curse. Can they remove the curse before it's too late for Charlie?

Falcone's atmospheric writing builds slowly to a horrifying conclusion but it leaves the reader somehow unsatisfied. While there's as much terror as any good Bellairs creepfest, these stories somehow have a younger feel. In the end, despite the horrifying endings and the weird plots, both of the Falcone ghost stories I've read so far are, well, boring. The characters' little touches of personality don't make them any more real and despite all the running back and forth in the creepy house and to the witch, there's no real action in The Midnight Curse.

Verdict: Middle grade readers looking for good creepy stories will prefer John Bellairs. Younger readers will be satisfied with Chris Mould or Araminta Spookie. These stories just don't deliver enough character and plot to get the reader to the really terrifying conclusion.

ISBN: 978-1554533596; Published March 2010 by Kids Can Press; Borrowed from the library.

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