Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Sammy Keyes and the Night of Skulls

Sammy Keyes and the Night of Skulls

4.6 33
by Wendelin Van Draanen

See All Formats & Editions

"The most winning junior detective ever in teen lit. (Take that, Nancy Drew!)" —Midwest Children's Book Review

After being chased by a man wielding a shovel, scared silly by a mummy, and attacked by Heather Acosta, Sammy and her pals decide they've had their fill of monsters and head home to eat some candy. But along with


"The most winning junior detective ever in teen lit. (Take that, Nancy Drew!)" —Midwest Children's Book Review

After being chased by a man wielding a shovel, scared silly by a mummy, and attacked by Heather Acosta, Sammy and her pals decide they've had their fill of monsters and head home to eat some candy. But along with bubble gum and chocolate bars, they discover something frightening in their trick-or-treating bags. Something that's definitely not sweet!

Before they know it, Sammy and her friends are following suspicious gravediggers, ghoulish embalmers, and shady undertakers. And somebody is following them . . .

The Sammy Keyes mysteries are fast-paced, funny, thoroughly modern, and true whodunits. Each mystery is exciting and dramatic, but it's the drama in Sammy's personal life that keeps readers coming back to see what happens next with her love interest Casey, her soap-star mother, and her mysterious father.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Joella Peterson
Sammy Keyes has yet another mystery to solve. This time she and her friends are out for Halloween dressed as zombies when they decide to cut through the graveyard on their way to the "haunted house" across town. However, while trespassing over tombstones the five friends come across a disturbance—one man frantically running away from another. In the ruckus, Sammy's group ends up with a mysterious bag that has two skulls in it. Like other Sammy Keyes mysteries this one has quite a bit of odd happenings, amateur detective work, and lots of choices as to how to respond to social happenings between friends (or enemies) in middle and high school. All in all, this is another good mystery with just the right amount of drama without all the blood, guts and glory that often accompany teen mysteries. Readers who are seeking mild thrills and adventure with great characters and a plethora of interesting Halloween (and a few other lesser-known holidays around that time of year) facts should look no farther. Part of the "Sammy Keyes" series. Reviewer: Joella Peterson
From the Publisher
Praise for the Sammy Keyes series:
“Van Draanen offers such an explosive combination of high-stakes sleuthing, hilarity, and breathlessly paced action that it’s impossible to turn the pages fast enough.” —Kirkus Reviews 

“There’s no stopping Sammy.”—Publishers Weekly

“An intelligent, gutsy, flawed, and utterly likable heroine.”—Booklist

"Move over, Nancy Drew—a new sleuth is on the scene.”—Girls’ Life

"Think a combination of Carl Hiaasen’s Flush and Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books and you’ll be right on target.” —School Library Journal

“A high-quality, high-amp mystery series.” —The Horn Book
“This funny, clever series is NOT for kids only. I challenge the most seasoned mystery reader to guess ‘who done it.’” —Cozies, Capers, and Crimes
“Sammy Keyes comes armed with attitude.” —Orlando Sentinel

“Sammy doesn’t find mysteries to solve—they find her.” —Arizona Republic

“Humor, romance and adventure; this story is an absolute blast.” —Chicago Tribune
“If you haven’t met Sammy Keyes yet, now is the time.” —Children’s Literature

VOYA - Eileen Kuhl
Sammy Keyes and the Night of Skulls is another solid episode in this popular middle school series. Sammy Keyes, the thirteen-year-old rookie detective, is once again entangled in a complex, dangerous, and humorous mystery. Sammy and her faithful friends decide to take a shortcut through the cemetery in their Halloween costumes and are shocked to see two spooky figures carrying lifelike skulls. They attempt to locate the mysterious figures and find out why they have the skulls and if this has something to do with the three people who have disappeared in the past month. Sammy and the gang visit a funeral home, witness an embalming, learn about the Day of the Dead, become friends with a former gravedigger, and are implicated in a possible grave robbery scheme. Sammy is also dealing with the neverending hostility of her boyfriend; Casey's sister, Heather; and the schemes of her sneaky, obnoxious classmate Danny. The story leads Sammy to consider the topic of life after death and the ways that humans deal with the tragedy of death. Sammy's character also learns a sense of responsibility for her behavior and decisions. The plot meanders a little between the mystery and the school rivalries, but readers who enjoy a light, not-too-complex mystery will be entertained and root for Sammy. Van Draanen has created a sometimes scary and sometimes funny story that realistically depicts young teen personalities, peer pressure, crushes, and some serious concepts. Recommend this to tweens who like Betsy Byars's Herculeah Jones series (Perfection Learning) or Nancy Springer's Enola Holmes novels (Puffin). Reviewer: Eileen Kuhl

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sammy Keyes Series
Sold by:
Random House
Sales rank:
770L (what's this?)
File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt


Hudson Graham may be seventy-three, but he's the coolest old guy you'd ever want to meet. I mean, how many "seniors" will offer up their house to a bunch of teenagers to use as their Halloween headquarters? Most old people zip up their homes, shut off their lights, and hide in a back room until Halloween is over. They don't even hand out candy, let alone lend out stuff to help you transform into scar-faced zombies.

Dressing up as a zombie was new for me. I usually go as the Marsh Monster, with ratty green hair and marshy-looking clothes, but this year Casey and Billy were going trick-or-treating with Marissa and Holly and me, and they wanted to use super creepy makeup and blood capsules and fake scars and stuff, so just painting myself green seemed pretty lame in comparison. And after I jumped on the scar-faced zombie wagon, Marissa and Holly got on board, too.

Our friend Dot didn't want anything to do with our little death brigade. She said she was going to "reprise" her bumblebee costume from last year and take her little sisters around their neighborhood instead, but I think she just didn't want to risk another Halloween like last year.

Anyway, Holly, Marissa, Billy, Casey, and I all met at Hudson's house and had a blast painting and spraying and plastering scars onto each other. It got uuuuuugly! And even uglier when we put in our fake rotten teeth!

"You look hideous, darling!" Billy says to Marissa in a Count Dracula accent.

"And you're revolting!" Marissa says back with a laugh.

Then Hudson comes in with some old, worn flannels and a pair of scissors. "Seems you could use some tatters to go with those faces."

"Are you serious?" Casey asks him.

"Rip away," he says with a laugh.

So we put on the shirts, then we tear and tatter and, you know, destroy them, which really does a lot to complete our zombie look.

"Very gruesome," Hudson says as he lets us out. "You look like you're straight from the grave."

Billy hunches over like Quasimodo as we go down the porch steps, then makes a horrifying sound in his throat and says, "Let's go, my pretties!"

So off we go, racing from house to house, collecting candy in our pillowcases, and it didn't take long for Billy to really start hamming it up.

"Aaaaah," he'd gurgle when someone answered the door. "I think I'm . . . dyyyyyyyyying!" Then he'd grab his throat and stagger around, finally collapsing onto the porch. "Caaaaaaandy!" he'd gasp, holding up his sack. "Save me!"

The person who answered the door would always laugh, then give all of us two or three pieces instead of just one.

"You're the master at this," Casey tells him after about the sixth performance.

"And you, my pretty, are my slave!"

Casey laughs, "Dude, there's no way I'm your pretty."

"My pretty ugly, then!" Billy rasps. "But still my slave."

So we're all laughing and chasing after Billy as he scurries back onto the sidewalk, but we quit laughing quick when we find ourselves doing a domino-style bump-up into a cop.

It's pretty shadowy right there, so it takes a second for me to realize that it's not a real cop--it's just a guy in costume. And then it hits me that this fake cop is none other than Danny Urbanski.

Now, let's just say that Danny Urbanski doesn't need to dress up for Halloween. Anyone with two eyes can see that he's a snake. Trouble is, Marissa's two eyes don't focus where Danny's concerned. She's had a crush on him forever, and even though she knows he's a slithering sneak, she still can't seem to shake him.

"Dude!" Billy says to him. "A cop?"

Danny laughs. "Best way to stay out of trouble, man." He checks us all over. "You, on the other hand, are dead meat!" Then he laughs really hard at his own joke.

I hate the way Danny laughs. It's one of those forced, kind of hacking laughs that sounds like a lawn mower that won't start.

Ha-ha-ha. Ha-ha-ha.

Like he needs a new spark plug.

Anyway, Danny and Casey used to be really good friends, but not anymore. And I think Danny knows that Holly and I aren't exactly his biggest fans, so it was kinda awkward standing there in the middle of the sidewalk. Especially since Marissa was mortified to be looking so drop-dead ugly.

"Hide me!" she whimpers, then slouches behind me and Holly.

But Danny knows that Marissa and I are usually together, so he sort of leans around and says, "Marissa?"

Marissa spits her nasty yellow teeth into her hand and smiles at him. But all those white teeth flashing through warts and scars and peeling skin looks weird.

Like, extra creepy.

Danny laughs again. "Hey, beautiful. Wanna be my ghoulfriend?"

Now, he says this all, you know, suave-like, but there's also a hint of sarcasm to it and it's hard to tell--is he making fun of her? Or is he actually saying, You want to hang out with me tonight?

Or maybe this is his snarky way of apologizing for sucking face with that nasty Heather Acosta and flirting with every hot girl who walks by.

With Danny you just can't tell.

Anyway, Marissa obviously doesn't know what to say because she just stares until Casey comes to the rescue, asking him, "So who you hangin' with tonight?"

"I'm meeting up with Nick and some of the guys at the haunted house on Feere Street." Then he kinda throws a smirk at the rest of us and says to Casey, "I can't believe you're trick-or-treating, man."

What's totally implied in this is, I can't believe you're hanging out with these babies. See, even though we went to the same junior high, Danny and Casey are both freshmen in high school now. Billy would be, too, only he got held back a year, so he's stuck in eighth grade with us.

And I'm sure Casey's at least a little embarrassed by Danny's comment, but he doesn't show it. Instead he moves past Danny saying, "Hey, if I'm ever too cool for free candy, I really will be a walking dead man."

Danny lets out another one of his stupid fake laughs, then says, "Whatever, man. I'm heading over to the haunted house," and he takes a few steps before calling over his shoulder, "There'll be people from high school there."

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

WENDELIN VAN DRAANEN was a classroom teacher for many years before becoming a full-time writer. The books in the Sammy Keyes mystery series have been embraced by critics and readers alike, with Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief receiving the Edgar Allan Poe Award for best children’s mystery. Wendelin is also the author of many award-winning novels, including Flipped, The Running Dream, Runaway, Confessions of a Serial Kisser, Swear to Howdy, The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones, and Wild Bird. You can find her online at WendelinVanDraanen.com and @WendelinVanD, and you can follow Sammy Keyes on Facebook.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Sammy Keyes and the Night of Skulls 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
Rachel Klemm More than 1 year ago
I havw read all of the Sammy Keyes books, and this one is very heartwarming. It is a Halloween sort of book so I'm glad it came out in October. I love how Sammy figures out everything. It is almost like a miracle, sorr of. :) You will not regret buying this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Omg this book is phenomenal!!!! I loved it right from the start. This book is perfect for any mystery lovers ages 11 and up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Two thumbs up
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wes Smith More than 1 year ago
I am reading sammy keyes and the search for the snake eyes it is like um really really really GOOD i just had to give that one a 5**********
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hfhfhfffhfhfhfhdhdhchch cnjfjfhjfjfjgjfhchfhhffhfdhdg gfgfhgggvggghhhthggghhh hhtyyvyyygygyvyvyyyvvyvyg buhugygygygtttggyhycjvjghcjv gcgghchfycychchchchchchchg fhvhvhvjvhfhfhfhffhfhhhfhchchc vygygygyggygygyguvyvyyggvvg yhygyggffrrfrfttrrftttgfrtredfgdfggre ggrtdrefttttyyttfrrreddrgtgggttggffrg jgjgjvvjvgjvjvvvvjjfjcjgjhchjvhjcjhghhh bkbkkbkvjvjvjvhvjvjhvhvyfvhchchchcj bjbjbjbjbkbkbkbkbjvjvjv jbjjvjvjgugjvjvjvj hgjgjvjyyyfygygvjvjcgcgchcgghvccgghg chchcchhchchvhvhcfcyfyfychvhcvhvhvg jujvhhhvhfgfgftftgcgctyfcjujujujujujujujujuj vvhhhvhvvhvhvhhvhvhhggyfygyfgyghguw ygujgyguvugugugugydyyyghftfgcgdgchfhcc tvjvjvhvfchvygugyyfygyygugjvhgyfygygugggg jjvugugghuuguuguugugvuguuguguuuguggugu gfgggffggggggghggghggggggggghhhhhhhhhhh ghghyfhgjggjgjgjvjvjvhvhjvhgjgjgjghgjgjjfgghhhjjjjj gyhgjvjvjgjvjgjvjggghfjfhfhfjvjgjgjgjgjtugyfteytyooty cyfhghfhghghgujgcfhvhghvhvjgjfjgjjvjvjvjvjvjvjvjgjfg ffhfhfhfdjfjfffhchfhffhfjfhfhfhfjgjgjfhhfhffhfhfhfhhgfhv hfgghfhdhfhfhchfhfhfbfjhfhfhfjfhhfhfhfhfjgjfjfjfhhfjfjfgh ugjggjgjghcgjghghfhfhfhdhfhfjgjghghjcjgjjgjgjhkgkkgjjg ggjghfhfhfhfjfjgjgjghhfhfhfhfhffhfgfffvhfffffffffygyggghtg ggjguuuyguguuguguytytyyhyghhhhgghghggggfgfffffffff kbkhkjbjkbkhkbkbbmvvjvjvfhfjhgcjvvbgfxfccgghsyeygsyb abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzzyxwvutsrqponmlkjihgfedcba dsghdhdvsgdgdhfhfbfgdgggggdfddgddgdgvvvdghbgfffhgg degdgdgdbhhhhfheytwgwfwfsgdhfhfhfhfhfhfhfhfhfhfhfhfhgf dddggvvvgcdcvbbvfdfbvcvwvwvwvnmnmnmnmnmnmnmnm ggcfghhhjhhjgddfffffffffggggtggggggggfggfrtttttttttttttttrtttttrrrrr fggggggfhstrhtfggdgffgggggttgggggggffffggggggggggggggggghggggggkfggggvvvcvvvvvvvvvgggggggggcgvgggggggggg hhhhhhgggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg ggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just finshed this sweet awesome book and espicailly for sammy keyes readers its veary good we get to hear about charters that r old like Elyssa and Dusty Mike is pretty good but you dont get to Elyssa for a whle in the book so dont tead the first page trying to find Elyssa when i grow up i would liketo be sammy keyes she is just a great inflewence on children cinda like me it is tottaly worth the money so theres 221 pages but it dont tell you the next book i cinda liked when it did that so i wouldnt go to the inter net for an answer is great thanks for reading this review
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Are you a girl im ashley i know a girl when i read abot one im in 5#grade. if you read this say somthing in a review O.K.???
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In this sammy keyes mystery sammy and her friends decide to take a "shortcut" into a graveyard to get to the haunted house on halloween night. Wow. Right then and there she gets caught into a mystery. I find it amazing how sammy just gets into a mystery like that and she is so awesome at solving them too! Like if I were there I would definitaly not figure out a mystery like that. I really like sammy because she is only in junior high like me and she gets to solve murder mysteries about serial killers and what not which are usually saved for adult books. But van draanen does it so perfectly and I just love her books. So what happens in the story is that sammy and her friends wind up in a graveyard where people are secretly... well I dont want to spoil it but lets just say that it has a lot to do with death. We get to learn a lot more in this book about peoples heritages and we learn more about there customs. We also get to see some characters return from earlier in the series which i loved! Theres dusty mike who take care of the graveyard and we also see elyssa who always came to the graveyard to visit her dads grave. And of course we have to have sammys... gang? possy? group? Anyways they are also in this one except we dont see as much of dot but we see her again in the next book. Billy is his usual self but do I feel romance in the air? You will have to find out for yourself who he may or may not get you know " involved" with. Then there is marrisa who I am so glad gets over "dippin dots" danny. I cant believe he would do what he did even if he is danny. They also talk about seeing a different side of danny the old danny when he used to actually be nice and not such a snake. There is more romance in the air as sammy and casey really get their relationship going by going on dates... in a graveyard and then the unthinkable happens and casey is forbidden to see sammy but of course that doesnt stop them now does it? I absolutely love casey! He is the sweetest boyfriend and it may be true that sammy doesnt need a boyfriend to be awesome but there is no one that can be better for her! Now we get to sammy and as usual she has spunk and plenty of attitude. I was surprised but in a good way in this specific part of her life because she shows more emotion. There is actual fear that we can see from her and that makes this memorable. Although she may have been over reacting a bit in some moments with that. I love sammy keyes and everthing every detail in this book makes it perfect and I think that is the magic that keeps pulling the readers always coming back for more from wendalin. You know I might literally cry my head off when this series ends. Ok maybe not my head off but I know that I will cry... I hope you enjoy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ive never read this book but i hope it is good. The thing i like about the sammy keyes books are that me and sammy r alike. We both have cats and we both like to solve mysterys. We also got the same name. I love how sammy always is sneaky and a nosey kid. I cant wait to read more sammy keyes!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
WishStealer More than 1 year ago
I like how the author kinda ties all the books together little by little, and Marissa finally got over Danny b/c she's seen who he really is. But Sammy's relationship with Casey is so annoying. For one, she's in eighth grade. She's too young to have a relationship that serious. Two, she's freakingsammykeyes. She doesn't need a boyfriend to be cool--that's part of who she is. She's too independent and strong. Three, too...intimate. I know it wasn't intimate at all, but all the kissing was really irritating. The plot wasn't too good either
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am 11 and Sammy Keyes is my idol. I wish I could be just like her
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good
Sally Berry More than 1 year ago
Love sammy keyes!!!!!!! Strawberries82
Alex Tadros More than 1 year ago
This series is amazing and i cannot wait til the 11th:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago