In this collection of seven short stories by the well-known writer of the supernatural, at least one character in each story is dead. In Drop Dead, a teenager is haunted by the girl she unknowingly has killed. In Shadow Brother, a soldier who is killed in Vietnam might be haunting the father who convinced him to enlist in the war. A man's wife returns from the dead for an endless dance in Dancing with Marjorie's Ghost, and a dying girl in October Chill meets a cute Colonial boy in the museum where she volunteers. In each story, there is a twist to the ending although it is not necessarily scary. Often humorous and sometimes evoking sympathy, this anthology will be enjoyed by lovers of mild horror as well as by those who like clever short stories. Vande Velde again sneaks in some historical background to make this collection similar to her Curses Inc. and Other Stories (Harcourt Brace, 1997/VOYA June 1997) and Tales from the Brothers Grimm and the Sister Weird (1995). The age appropriateness of the book seems to vary from story to story, some acceptable for as young as fifth grade and others more understandable for readers in high school. Several stories would work well for storytelling. VOYA CODES:4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses;Broad general YA appeal;Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8;Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2001, Harcourt, 228p, $17. Ages 11 to 15. Reviewer:Jennifer BromannVOYA, December 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 5)
This collection of seven ghost stories is told from a teenager's perspective. The tales are creepy but not scary. The first one, "Drop by Drop," has the biggest final twist. Brenda, a 16-year-old, is forced to move into the country with her family and finds an annoying little girl ghost in the new house. The ghost girl pulls typical ghost pranks like calling her on a dead phone line. As the story goes on, clues are given as to the real reason the little girl is appearing in the house, but Velde manages to hide these clues within typical teenage and parental interactions. Brenda is annoyed that her parents assume she ruined the alignment on the car, and is distressed that there is nothing to do in the new town. When the reader discovers that the real reason the little girl is haunting the house is because Brenda caused her death, it is a surprise to all, including Brenda. This fits in with the tradition of campfire-style, surprise-ending ghost stories. Not all of the stories are traditional. For example, "Shadow Brother" is a psychological thriller. Sarah used to listen to the arguments that her brother Kevin had with their father about the Vietnam War. Kevin opposed the war but sadly he died in it anyway. Their father goes off the deep end. He is consumed with guilt, and maybe by Kevin's ghost. This story is thought provoking and melancholy. "October Chill," on the other hand, is a love story. Emily, who is dying, falls in love and has a last romance with a teenage boy who has been dead for hundreds of years. The title of the book is derived from the last story, in which a paperboy from the 1930s tells of his untimely death. He settles his score with the bully he worked with, and is ableto say goodbye to his mother, in the final tear-jerking scene. These short stories are gripping and varied. They are a good choice for reluctant readers, or for anyone who likes ghost stories. KLIATT Codes: JS-Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2001, Harcourt, Brace, 203p., Ages 12 to 18.
Gr 7 Up-Horror fans will love these seven deliciously creepy tales featuring ghosts, cemeteries, suicides, murders, and other death-related themes. Most of the selections deal with everyday teens in seemingly ordinary situations; readers will settle in, confident that they know what to expect, only to receive a spine-tingling jolt as they hit one of the collection's many gruesome twists and turns. The first story, "Drop by Drop," shows the author's macabre imagination at its best. Sixteen-year-old Brenda is understandably disgruntled when her parents whisk her away from her friends and her life in the city. Worse, their new house in a small town appears to be haunted. In one shivery scene, a disembodied hand touches her through her waterbed mattress, and Brenda spends the night on the couch. Clues turn up: a missing little girl, a foul smell from the woods, a dripping ghost. But just when it seems that Brenda will solve the mystery, the truth comes out-and most readers will be reeling with shock. In another story, a boy killed in Vietnam returns to haunt the father who forced him to enlist-or does he? In "October Chill," a terminally ill girl falls for the ghost of a teen from Colonial times. None of the stories are gory, but they are all quite dark. Recommend this title to teens who don't want happy-ever-after endings.-Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Dead but not quite gone, specters in these seven stories rise up to harry the living, meet lovers, take care of unfinished business, or some combination thereof. There are no duds here: a harsh widower's recently buried wife returns to dance him into her grave; a young woman with brain cancer falls in love with a man over 200 years dead; "Drop By Drop" a hit-and-run victim drives a seemingly innocent teenager into an anguished confession. "The Ghost" is a cleverly written tale with a surprise narrator, and in the title story, a Depression Era newsboy killed by a jumper resists the Voice ("Sort of like Lowell Thomas, only not so full of himself"), calling him to eternal bliss until he sees his earnings conveyed to his mother. Here, veteran short-story writer Vande Velde (Alison, Who Went Away, p. 266, etc.) again chills, charms, moves, and startles with her customary effectiveness. (Short stories. 10-13)
"It'll make you want to sleep with the lights on."Teen People
"These spirits are destined to find their audience."Booklist
"There are no duds here. . . . Vande Velde again chills, charms, moves, and startles with her customary effectiveness."Kirkus Reviews