The accommodations at Stillbrook Apartments aren’t exactly glamorous, but they’re quiet, affordable, and well maintained. The handyman is usually available to help with a leak or a broken bulb, his wife and two adorable kids often tagging along. When occasion dictates, the neighbors gather to wish each other well and spread the requisite holiday cheer. Everything’s very nice. Very normal.
But as Halloween approaches, strange occurrences are happening all around Stillbrook. The children tell disturbing stories, bizarre noises bleed through the walls, and one abandoned unit is found to be inhabited by something sinister—something that’s no longer alive.
For the safety of the tenants, the Halloween party has been canceled. There will be no decorations or masks, no candied apples or witch’s brew. But without treats to divert the Halloween Children, they have no choice but to play some very nasty tricks.
Praise for The Halloween Children
“From the great, early slow build of the book to the terrifying, satisfying payoff, The Halloween Children is a complete success.”—October Country
“This is a disturbing, claustrophobic, enjoyable read that encompasses everything Halloween should be.”—Monster Librarian
“I highly recommend this book to fans of Halloween and horror!”—Cedar Hollow Horror Reviews
“A fantastic collaboration between two amazing authors, this is a book that will stay with you long after you close the [book].”—The Behrg Writes
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Sold by:||Random House|
|File size:||1 MB|
About the Author
Brian James Freeman is the general manager of Cemetery Dance Publications and the author of The Echo of Memory, The Suicide Diary, The Halloween Children (with Norman Prentiss), The Painted Darkness, and Blue November Storms. He has edited several anthologies including Detours, Reading Stephen King, and Halloween Carnival, and with Richard Chizmar he co-edited Killer Crimes and the Dark Screams series. He is also the founder of Books to Benefit, a specialty press that works with bestselling authors to publish collectible limited-edition books to raise funds and awareness for good causes.
Read an Excerpt
A few weeks before my entire world collapsed around me, my wife and I rented a found-footage movie about a couple of spoiled rich kids deciding their house is haunted. They’re terrified because a dish gets broken or they hear a strange noise in their silent, spotless home.
I didn’t have a lot of sympathy for them. Stuff got broken around our place all the time, and the apartment had never exactly been quiet to begin with.
It’s called having a family.
I turned to Lynn at her end of the couch and I said, “If this happened to us, how would we know? Seriously, how? With your Amber chatting and singing constantly, I wouldn’t be able to hear a ghost unless it screamed right into my ear.”
“You’re the one talking now. Amber’s asleep.”
Lynn pretended annoyance that I spoke over the television, but I knew she was miffed at the “your Amber” remark—which, let’s be clear, I never say in front of our daughter. But when my wife and I are alone, I kind of can’t resist pointing out Lynn’s tendency to give Amber extra attention and encouragement, sometimes at Mattie’s expense.
Amber’s the squeaky wheel.
As a for-instance: Say, after dinner, we’re in the TV room and Mattie’s drawing in one of his notebooks while Amber plinks away at the xylophone I could kill my brother for giving her last Christmas. She hits a ton of notes until it’s like Morse code, dot-dot-dash-dot-whatever, and I swear it’s like she sends her mother a coded message. You want a cookie? Lynn says, and Amber bright-smiles with a Yes, please, so you know it’s just what she’s been thinking, and all the while she never pauses with those sticks against the colorful metal bars, maybe practicing a sequence for her next request—you know, Bring me a glass of milk while you’re at it, okay Mom?
And all the time Mattie’s right there in the same room. “What about Mattie?” I say, and Lynn says she didn’t think he wanted to be bothered while he was drawing. If he’s hungry, he should speak up, she says. Then she asks him anyway, just to humor me, and Mattie looks at her like he ponders the offer, then moves his head kind of in a circle so you can’t tell if he’s nodding yes or no. To me, it’s a sweet and sad gesture: It’s like the boy thinks he doesn’t deserve a cookie. So I’m like, “Bring him one, too. He doesn’t eat it, I will.”
Later, in the movie, the young wife started screaming because she heard footsteps above the bedroom ceiling.
As Lynn and I watched, our new upstairs neighbor took heavy steps across the floor of his living room.
“Mr. Stompy’s at it again,” Lynn said. The apartment regulations said you were supposed to carpet eighty-five percent of the floors, with padding beneath, to muffle footsteps. Before I’d met the new upstairs guy in person, I thought he must weigh four hundred pounds. Actually, he was this frail little thing and I didn’t know how he managed to make so much noise.
“He sounds angry,” I said as he crossed the room again. My eyes tracked his movement across our ceiling. “Let’s hope he doesn’t start his vacuum at two a.m. again, like last week.”
Next, the movie husband heard a low whisper through the baby monitor. I couldn’t hear what it said because somebody used the trash chute in the hallway outside our apartment. The bag clanged against the hollow metal chute on the way down, and some glass shattered when it hit bottom.
“Some ghost has probably been trying to scare us for months now,” I said. “Too bad we can’t hear it.”
“Shhhh,” Lynn said. “Movie.”
I was just joking around, of course. If my jokes had anything to do with what happened to our family that Halloween, I’m really sorry. I wish I could take it all back.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Chilling and horrific. Told from various viewpoints, this story is a compelling read with a bit of a surprise at the end. You want to look away but you just can't until you finish the story. Not a story for children. Graphic details of murder and torture.
A little boring at first but isnt A bad read once it gets going.
Horrific Halloween Hijinks! I was provided with a complimentary copy of this ebook in exchange for my honest review. Oh my God! Shades of The Shining which quickly disappear. Brian and Norm begin with a pretty benign story ... an apartment complex caretaker going about his rounds just before Halloween. Sprinkled in is the conflict between the caretaker and his wife over their disparate parenting styles pertaining to their son and daughter. The father favors the son while the mother favors the daughter. We are then introduced to some of the strange/odd/creepy tenants of Stllbrook Apartments. The story is told from multiple perspectives, which are woven together seamlessly and propel the story forward at a breakneck (almost literally!) pace. We switch back and forth from the caretaker's journal, to his wife's counselor-assigned journal to recordings, emails and interviews. Not until the end will you discover what is truly happening and who is responsible for the horrific goings-on at Stillbrook. Ultimately, this was a truly scary collaboration from two authors who are no strangers to horror. Definitely well worth the read ... but remember to keep the lights on!
Freeman and Prentiss have meshed to deliver a chilling tale. This story has all the ingredients to become a classic Halloween haunt. The stakes are high when Halloween is threatened to be called off in this quiet little apartment complex. The subtle advancing pace that moves The Halloween Children to its final revealing end will have you hooked all along the way.
This story is told from different perspectives: the husband, Harris Naylor, is the apartment complex handyman; his wife, Lynn, does tech support from home; and the victim who you do not know who he or she is. The story takes place in the Stillbrook Apartment Complex from a few days before Halloween until Halloween night. You get to know a few of the tenants and the two children of Harris and Lynn. Everyone is a little dysfunctional. The story, to me, wasn't so much scary as creepy. The plot was well written and kept you wanting to know what would happen next. The characters were developed and as you get to know them you feel sorry for some, and dislike others. I enjoyed this book. I received this free arc from NetGalley for an honest review.
The authors of The Halloween Children are sneaky geniuses in the art of storytelling—adepts who snatch your attention, get you invested and immersed in the tale and then hint at something sinister in a subtle way that provokes dread, horror and suspense. It’s as if they flick a juicy “thought drop” into the pool of the reader’s imagination and then let the ramifications ripple into obsession, inciting intrigue and fear for the fate of beloved characters. Harris, the Stillbrook Apartment complex’s handyman, is good father, but in all honesty, he favors the side of his son, Matt, where child discipline is concerned. His wife Lynn is searching for herself and struggling with inner turmoil, on edge and ruminating over their marriage––should they divorce?––and within the family’s dynamics, her daughter Amber delights her to no end, but her son Matt needs to be watched. Then there’s matter of the creepy neighbors, the tenants of Stillbrook: a spooky no-neck woman in a wheelchair who may be faking her injuries, the Durkins’ exotic, thousand-dollar bird that shrieks unearthly squawks that sound like someone being tortured—or murdered. Which is strange because there actually had been a grisly death within the complex that was kept hush-hush by management. The story unfolds through Harris’ journal, Lynn’s journal (as assigned by a marriage counselor she’s been seeing in secret), recordings, digital transcriptions, email and interviews. The immediacy of this technique makes for a taut, fast-paced, enjoyable read. The Halloween Children kept my eyes glued to the glow of the screen, licking my lips and swiping digital pages into the wee hours after midnight. This horror novel is a treat!
Shame on me! While the beautiful print edition was sitting on my shelf for ages, I never managed to actually read it. Thankfully, I was able to get my hands on this ebook edition, and that did the trick... The story caught me completely by surprise, it was much less Halloween-ish, or better said: different in its angle, than expected. Also, Halloween is not the mayor subject here, but a nice playground for the story to unfold upon. The story is told from different POVs, which made me immediately take Harris' side and dislike Lynn, though ironically sometimes she uttered exactly what I would have thought in a similar family situation... While the beginning caught me off guard and made me wonder where this would all lead too, there was a sense of unease right from the start. With Halloween just a few days away (in the story), it was easy to foresee when the culminating horror would reach its boiling point and spill its ugly innards in every direction. Though the end could have answered one more question or even two, it was disturbing as hell and still keeps on haunting me. Far from your typical Halloween tale, this story is sure to cause some sleepless nights - one way or the other. (Thanks to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for a copy of the book, all opinions are my own)
The Halloween Children is a very engaging read and a great collaboration. I wasn't sure what to expect starting this book and I'm not usually scared after reading horror for so long but I was pleasantly surprised at the vivid imagery and the overall enjoyment in the read. The scares were a little slow to start with but the build up of the characters and their interactions pay off later. Overall recommended for anyone looking for a quick, creepy read.
Two great authors in one creepy tale! Switching between several different views, it keeps you guessing who's version is true. Great creeper draws you in & its put together well, never would guess it's two different authors with their own great styles!
Everyone knows that in order to make a horror story truly horrific, add a child. Make that two children who decide to join forces on Halloween; well that right there folks, is terror the likes that the Devil himself couldn’t fathom. Now, take that idea, and put it in the hands to two extremely talented writers, and you have something very special, and disturbing. I’ve read enough collaboration pieces that I’m usually able to tell who wrote what – but not here. Brian James Freeman and Norman Prentiss go together like peanut butter and jelly. On their own, they’re pretty good (although I have to admit this is only the third piece of Prentiss’ that I’ve ever read), but together, they are that much better. Now, on to the story. I think the only work that can really describe it is exquisite. What I really liked was the format. We get different points of views of the same time frame. Harris and Lynn are husband and wife who apparently not only have “favorites” where their kids are concerned, but also have marital issues. This is evident when you read Lynn’s account – she’s writing journal entries to a marriage counselor. Harris is the maintenance man for the apartment complex they live in, which is filled with an odd assortment of characters. Lynn does tech support from home. Their children, Matt and Amber, are polar opposites of each other; Matt is organized and reserved, Amber, not so much. Lynn thinks that Harris babies Matt and doesn’t pay Amber enough attention. Harris thinks the opposite of Lynn. Through some very good character development, Brian and Norman take that very volatile situation, and throw in some mischief; and here’s where it gets frightening. Things start happening around the house, and the complex. Heavy footsteps in the apartment upstairs, yet a feeble man lives there. Voices are heard where nobody is around. And it just gets weirder from there. Lynn finally blames the kids for it all and decides to punish them by “cancelling” Halloween; with dire results. But, was it the kids, or something else? Pick this gem up and decide for yourself. Let’s just say I will most certainly be handing out candy this October 31st, lest the wrath of The Halloween Children rain upon me.