Having survived sinister scarecrows and the malevolent smiling man in Small Spaces, newly minted best friends Ollie, Coco, and Brian are ready to spend a relaxing winter break skiing together with their parents at Mount Hemlock Resort. But when a snowstorm sets in, causing the power to flicker out and the cold to creep closer and closer, the three are forced to settle for hot chocolate and board games by the fire.
Ollie, Coco, and Brian are determined to make the best of being snowed in, but odd things keep happening. Coco is convinced she has seen a ghost, and Ollie is having nightmares about frostbitten girls pleading for help. Then Mr. Voland, a mysterious ghost hunter, arrives in the midst of the storm to investigate the hauntings at Hemlock Lodge. Ollie, Coco, and Brian want to trust him, but Ollie's watch, which once saved them from the smiling man, has a new cautionary message: BEWARE.
With Mr. Voland's help, Ollie, Coco, and Brian reach out to the dead voices at Mount Hemlock. Maybe the ghosts need their helpor maybe not all ghosts can or should be trusted.
Dead Voices is a terrifying follow-up to Small Spaces with thrills and chills galore and the captive foreboding of a classic ghost story.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Coco opened her mouth to scream, and woke up with a gasp.
She was in the car, in the snowstorm, driving to Mount Hemlock, and her mother was talking to Mr. Adler in the front seat. It was cold in the back seat; her toes in their winter boots were numb. Coco sat still for a second, breathing fast with fright. Just a dream, she told herself. She’d had a lot of scarecrow dreams in the last few months. So had Ollie and Brian. Just a dream.
“How much farther, Roger?” Coco’s mom asked.
“Should be pretty close now,” said Mr. Adler.
Coco, a little dazed from her nightmare, stared out the front windshield. It was snowing even harder. The road was a thin yellowish-white strip, piled thick with snow. More snow bowed the trees on either side.
The Subaru was moving slowly. The thick snow groaned under the wheels, and Mr. Adler seemed to be struggling to keep the car going straight on the slippery road. “What a night, huh?” he said.
“Want me to drive?” asked Coco’s mom.
This time the usual cheer was gone from Mr. Adler’s reply. “It’s okay. I know the car better.” Lower, he added, “Just pray we don’t get stuck.”
Now the car was coming down into a gully, the road turning slightly.
But the road wasn’t empty. For a stomach-clenching second, Coco thought she was still dreaming. Right in front of them, in the middle of the road, stood a tall figure in a ragged blue ski jacket. It looked like a scarecrow. The figure was perfectly still. One palm was raised and turned out as though to beg. As though to say, STOP. The face was hidden by a ski mask.
Coco felt a jolt of terror. But then she realized that the person had real hands. Not garden tools. She wasn’t dreaming; this wasn’t a scarecrow.
Mr. Adler wasn’t slowing down. “Stop!” yelled Coco, yanking herself upright. “Look! Look!”
Mr. Adler slammed on the brakes. The car skidded, turning sideways, swinging them toward the thick black ranks of trees. Coco braced, waiting to hear the thump of someone slamming into the side of the car. The person had been so close . . .
The car shuddered to a stop, only a couple feet from the nearest tree trunk.
All of them sat stunned for a second.
“I didn’t feel us hit anything.” Mr. Adler sounded like he was taking deep breaths, trying to be calm. “What did you see, Coco?”
Coco was startled. “You didn’t see it? There was a person in the road! We must have hit him!” Her voice sounded squeaky. She hated when her voice sounded squeaky. Had they hurt someone? Had they killed . . .
Ollie’s dad put on the emergency brake and turned on the car’s hazard lights. “Kids, I need you to stay—” he began, but Ollie had already unlocked her door and scrambled out into the snow. It came up to her knees. Brian was right behind her on his side, and Coco, although her hands were shaking, hurried after them.
“Coco!” cried her mom as she and Mr. Adler followed. “Coco, don’t look, get back, be careful—”
Coco pretended not to hear. She grabbed her phone, went around the car, and shined the light at the snow. Brian was doing the same. Ollie had pulled a headlamp from the pocket on her car door. The three of them stood shoulder to shoulder, shining their flashlights all around the car. The snow was falling so thickly that they couldn’t see anything outside the circle of their lights. Faintly, Coco heard the whisper of wind in the pine needles overhead.
Mr. Adler had a flashlight from the glove compartment. Coco’s mom stood next to him, squinting into the snowstorm. Four beams of light shone on the snow. The road was utterly empty. Coco saw the tracks where the car had come down, saw the huge sideways mark of the car’s skid. But nothing else.
“I don’t see anyone. Any tracks, even,” said her mom. “Thank god.”
“But I saw someone,” protested Coco. “In the road. A person. They had their hand out.” She raised her own arm, palm out, to demonstrate. “They were wearing a blue ski jacket, but no gloves. Ollie, did you see?”
“I thought I might have seen something,” said Ollie. She sounded doubtful. “Like a shadow. But I wasn’t sure. There’s so much snow. Brian?”
Brian shook his head. “But,” he said loyally, “Ollie and I couldn’t see out the windshield as well as Coco, since she was in the middle.”
Coco’s mom gestured at the snow, which was unmarked except for the car’s tracks and their own footprints. “I don’t think there was anyone here.” She started to shiver.
They’d all taken off their heavy coats for driving, and now the snow was piling up on their shoulders.
“I saw someone,” Coco insisted, but the others, eager to get back into the warm car, weren’t listening anymore. She hurried after them. “I definitely saw someone.”
“It might have just been a shadow, Tiny,” said Brian reasonably. “Or a deer. Or maybe you were just dreaming and you mixed up being asleep and being awake.”
“I wasn’t imagining things!” cried Coco, wishing so hard that her voice wouldn’t squeak. “And don’t call me Tiny!”
“But there’s obviously no one—” Brian began.
“Hey,” said Ollie’s dad, cutting them off. “Easy now, both of you. Just be glad we didn’t hit anyone. Let’s get back in the car. It’s not safe here.”
Coco climbed unhappily back into the car. She felt like everyone was just a little bit mad at her for yelling stop so that Mr. Adler had to slam on his brakes and send them skidding dangerously across the road. She was sure she’d seen someone.
But she had been half asleep. Maybe she did dream it. As they drove away, Coco turned around and looked out the back window.
Just for a second, she thought she saw a dark figure lit red by the car’s rear lights. It stood facing them in the middle of the road. One bare hand was still upraised.
Like a plea.
Like a warning.
“Guys,” she whispered. “It’s there. It’s right back there.” Ollie and Brian turned around.
There was a small silence.
“I don’t see anything,” said Ollie.
Coco looked again.
The figure was gone.