Over the next few weeks, I'll be reviewing books from Scholastic's Poison Apple series. Today's title is The Dead End by Mimi McCoy.
by Mimi McCoy
2010 | 174 pages | Middle Grade
Casey Slater and her best friend, Jillian, have a lot of plans for their summer before seventh grade. Unfortunately, they won't get to put any of them into action because Casey's parents are taking her with them to a remote town called Stillness, where they have just bought a ramshackle house in desperate need of repair. From the moment the family arrives in Stillness, people have strange reactions to where they're living - and it's no wonder. The creepy old house isn't just falling apart - it's also plagued by strange occurrences and creepy vibes. Unusual and dangerous things keep happening to Casey. At first, she can't find an explanation, but when she uncovers a diary in the attic, she starts to realize this house is haunted. Though she is easily frightened, Casey decides it's time to face her fears and figure out who is haunting her, and why - before it's too late.
I don't tend to read scary books, but there was something appealing about the Poison Apple concept that made me pick up this book. I'm glad I did, too, because it was a really entertaining, suspenseful, and fast-paced read just perfect for grades 5 to 8. I was uncertain for much of the book whether the supernatural events Casey experienced were going to turn out to have a logical explanation or not. I kept half-expecting a Scooby-Doo-esque outcome, where the meddling kids pull the sheet off the ghost and discover the criminal underneath, but when that didn't happen, I wasn't disappointed. Rather, I thought the motivation ascribed to the ghost, and the circumstances of that person's death were very well thought out, and certainly better than any purely reality-based plot I could have thought up.
I was slightly surprised by the mention of an autopsy at the start of the book, when Casey and Jillian discuss a creepy urban legend they've heard about recently, but that was the only truly dark piece of the plot. Beyond that, this book followed the course of a typical ghost story, with just the right number of chills and thrills.
I borrowed The Dead End from my local public library.