The Pricker Boy

The Pricker Boy

4.4 9
by Reade Scott Whinnem

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Some stories draw blood. Some truths won’t stay buried.

He was human once, or so they say. The son of a fur trapper, he was taunted by his peers and tricked into one of his own father’s traps. By the time anybody found it, the trap’s vicious teeth were empty, pried open and overgrown. It was said the brambles themselves had reached out


Some stories draw blood. Some truths won’t stay buried.

He was human once, or so they say. The son of a fur trapper, he was taunted by his peers and tricked into one of his own father’s traps. By the time anybody found it, the trap’s vicious teeth were empty, pried open and overgrown. It was said the brambles themselves had reached out and taken pity on that boy; that his skin had hardened to bark as thorns grew over every inch of his body.

Maybe it’s true and maybe it isn’t. But anyone who knows anything stays out of the woods beyond the Widow’s Stone.

That used to be enough. But this is the summer everything changes, as Stucks Cumberland and his friends find a mysterious package containing mementos of their childhood: baseball cards, a worn paperback, a locket. Offerings left behind in the woods years ago, meant to keep the Pricker Boy at bay. Offerings that have been rejected.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 7–9—Stucks, 14, and his friend Pete are year-round residents of their lakeside community, joined each summer by kids whose families own vacation cottages—Emily, Ronnie, Vivek, and Stucks's cousin Robin. For years, the friends have been telling each other scary campfire stories starring the Pricker Boy, once a real child who was tricked into getting caught in one of his father's animal traps, taken in by the dense woods, and transformed into a revenge-seeking creature with "skin hardened like bark…and thorns over every inch of his body." Their belief that the stories aren't real is shaken when a package filled with childhood objects—sacrificed in years past to keep the monster away—mysteriously appears. Going into the woods beyond the hawthorn trees won't really bring danger and death, will it? And Pete, with his unpredictable behavior, isn't really going over to the dark side, is he? This summer is all about the friends testing their limits, finding a way to deal with their fears, and overcoming emotional trauma. While loose ends abound and certain plot elements defy logical explanation, the spooky mood is sustained and will carry many readers to consider their own nightmares, imagine their greatest fears, and have empathy for these characters dealing with their own bogeymen.—Joel Shoemaker, South East Junior High School, Iowa City, IA
Kirkus Reviews
A slow-going psychological thriller that is also part horror, part ghost story. Fourteen-year-old Stucks Cumberland, who lives year-round in a vacation community two hours outside of New York City, reunites annually with his summer friends, but this year, his best friend Pete, diagnosed "with potential for violence," won't join in. As they gather around the fire pit, Ronnie, the resident storyteller, spins yarns (with new details) of the legendary "Pricker Boy," who was tricked by his peers and vanished in the local woods 100 years ago; covered in thorns and seeking revenge, he killed at least two children. When a well-preserved package turns up of old, beloved objects that the kids gave up doing "widow's walks" to ward off the Pricker Boy, Stucks and his friends take risks, venturing further into the woods to discern if the "spiked bogeyman" is real or not. The clues in this too-full story of friendship and guilt do not piece together seamlessly, so even though the surprise ending adds depth, prior events are hazy. An ambitious effort that hovers close to the ground. (Thriller. 12 & up)
Publishers Weekly
In this darkly atmospheric story, 14-year-old Stucks lives with his family in a rural region that sees visitors only in summer. In the winter, it's always just been Stucks and his best friend, Pete. As they do every year, Stucks and his summer companions gather around a fire pit to tell spooky stories, the most notorious of which surrounds the thorn-covered Pricker Boy—the son of a fur trapper who was ensnared in one of his father's traps. Though Stucks believes he has encountered the Pricker Boy, the others largely reject the story as a myth, until sacrificial gifts that they have left for the creature throughout the years are ominously returned. As they navigate the forest, hoping to loosen the Pricker Boy's increasing psychological hold on them, Stucks occasionally encounters Pete, whose episodes of violence, revisited in flashbacks to previous summers, still haunt his victims. While Whinnem's (Utten and Plumley) supernatural labyrinth withholds as much as it reveals, the book's final disclosures surprise and resonate, leading readers to question: which is the more frightening monster: the one that lurks in the woods or in the mind? Ages 12—up. (Sept.)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sold by:
Random House
Sales rank:
700L (what's this?)
File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Reade Scott Whinnem lives on Cape Cod. Both he and his wife are proud public school teachers.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Pricker Boy 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read because it's unique.
224perweek More than 1 year ago
It took awhile for this story to get going but once it did......WOW! What a fantastic ghost story. I never saw the ending coming. Not only was it scary but heartbreaking as well. Not what you would expect by the dust jacket cover.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An amazing book that you will love forever!!!!!!!! - Jason Sevilla
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
CillianRune More than 1 year ago
The ending wasn't predictable at all. Creepy story, very well writen. Kudos to the author for creativity and imagination, great character development.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
skstiles612 More than 1 year ago
Stucks Cumberland is ready for summer vacation. It is a time when many of his friends return to their vacation homes. However, their vacation doesn't go the way they plan. Something is in the woods. No one goes beyond Widow's Stone for fear of running into the Pricker Boy. The Pricker Boy was a young boy tricked into believing his fur trapping father was keeping his mother in a cage in the forest and feeding her raw bits of meat. The boy goes looking for his mother. When he doesn't return, the kids start rumors that the thorns have taken him and now he seeks revenge against those who were so cruel to him. He has taken on the form of a being made from and covered with thorns. This is the story that Ronnie tells around the campfire every year. All of Stuck's friends say that it is not real but when Stucks claims to have seen the Pricker Boy, they all start wondering how much of it is true. Mysteriously the items they have given to the forest and the Pricker Boy to keep him from getting revenge on them have all mysteriously returned. What does it mean? I wasn't really sure what to make of this book. I couldn't put it down. I still don't know if the Pricker Boy was someone they made up from legend or if he was real. There were other issues going on and the author purposely left the ending the way he did so the reader could decide. This is what made this such a delicious read. I read this in e-book form and have ordered several hard copies for my shelves at school. My students who are fans of horror will love this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Stucks and his summer friends are ready for another warm, fun-filled vacation. They get just the opposite, however. The Pricker Boy, a young boy who was trapped by his own father's fur trap and taken in by the brambles, his skin turning to thorns, is back. When the group of friends discover their offerings they left for the Pricker Boy still in the woods, offerings meant to keep him at bay, everything changes for the worse. The friends no longer know who to trust and each one becomes insecure and retreats into their own shell. The Pricker Boy torments them relentlessly, without an apparent reason. Stucks, all the while, must deal with his silent brother and his angry best friend. The Pricker Boy cruelly tortures the friends, refusing to leave them alone. Together, the friends must stop this evil force, and come together to face the fearful future. This book had me completely horrified, like no other book ever has. The Pricker Boy was terrifying, as was his cruel treatment of the kids. Every time I read this book, I was constantly looking over my shoulder - that's how scary it was. The Pricker Boy isn't just scary on a paranormal level, but also on a human level. It shows just how dark humans can be, and it really makes one think about our capabilities to hurt others. The best way to describe this book is a modern-day LORD OF THE FLIES: completely terrifying, yet riveting. And be prepared for a huge twist that you'll never see coming. I had to reread the part several times before the surprise let up.