**This one made Kim’s Top 10 of 2020, but we ran out of days to have it posted, so fittingly her review for Dark Halls is our first review of 2021! **
Author: Jeff Menapace
Published: October 31, 2019
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars
Highland Elementary has a dark and disturbing past. . .so disturbing that locals ultimately burned the school to the ground.
Years later, Pinewood Elementary is the future, and for new teacher Ryan Herb, a chance at a fresh start. But the townspeople don’t believe that rebuilding the school and changing its name is enough. They believe that whatever evil inhabited the halls of Highland still dwells at Pinewood.
Ryan is a realist and isn’t the type to be affected by local lore. But when Ryan begins to experience horrifying visions of past tragedies, he starts to question his own beliefs. Something in the school is reaching out to Ryan for help, a potentially lethal request as something else – or someone else – in the school is keen on keeping the evil therein very much alive.
Can a skeptical Ryan unearth the origins of the evil’s true source and put an end to it? Or will he, like many before him, become a permanent resident of the school himself?
Rife with supernatural terror and intrigue, ‘Dark Halls’ blurs the lines between horror and mystery – a whodunit that, when solved, proposes the even greater question of: How do you stop it?
Creepy AF! I was attracted by the cover, which I didn’t include in the 2020 tournament cuz I knew no one else shares my love of the creepy horror covers. Then the description pulled me in and was it worth it!! I was creeped out from the beginning! Barely 20 pages in and I was scared. Spirits appearing, kids with abnormally large smiles and white eyes, murders and suicides, a haunted school … is anyone really surprised that I read this book? (Shout out to Alana for getting it for me for Christmas!) I wouldn’t call the story predictable, even though I guessed the identity of the villain relatively early. The easy reveal was in exchange for an engaging plot and crazy atmosphere! I’d even say the ending is considered open, yet I was happy and fulfilled with it! I read this book quickly and easily and it held me till the very end! I would absolutely recommend Dark Halls to anyone looking for a good horror book!
One for Sorrow
Author: Mary Downing Hahn
Published: July 18, 2017
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
Against the ominous backdrop of the influenza epidemic of 1918, Annie, a new girl at school, is claimed as best friend by Elsie, a classmate who is a tattletale, a liar, and a thief. Soon Annie makes other friends and finds herself joining them in teasing and tormenting Elsie. Elsie dies from influenza, but then she returns to reclaim Annie’s friendship and punish all the girls who bullied her. Young readers who revel in spooky stories will relish this chilling tale of a girl haunted by a vengeful ghost.
Another chilling tale from Hahn! My gosh she is the queen of kids’ horror! This one seemed appropriate for the times since it takes place during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. Seems a bit more romantic than covid, but I guess we’ll take what we can get.
I really liked this book. The atmosphere of Baltimore in winter and the cemetery in the snow and the mental hospital were vivid and interesting. The story was unique and satisfying and it gave me goosebumps in several places. And considering how annoying I find kids, I actually really liked Annie. She seemed sincere and relatable. My one issue is my complete and utter discomfort caused by Elsie! Hahn does this thing where she puts the nastiest kids down on paper and I spend half my time wishing they never existed! I know the point is to make them unlikable and downright unbearable … but dang, sometimes it’s just too much! But her horribleness added to the story so I was mostly ok. I would definitely recommend this to horror fans and even to kids who like the scarier stories.
Series: Book One of Rosemary’s Baby
Author: Ira Levin
Published: March 12, 1967
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars
Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse were delighted at the chance to move into Bramford, one of Manhattan’s oldest and most celebrated apartment houses. Their friend Hutch urged them not to; he knew of too many shadows in the Bramford’s past – unsavory tenants like Adrian Marcato, who had practiced witchcraft, and the monstrous Trench sisters. But Rosemary and Guy were clear-thinking and not at all superstitious. They dismissed Hutch’s warnings and moved in. At first, they were completely happy. Rosemary hung curtains and planned a nursery for the baby she hoped to have some day. Guy pursued his career as a stage and television actor. They met their neighbors who were friendly and unintrusive. But then, one day when Rosemary was down in the basement laundry room, a girl her own ago came in … Quietly and with a compelling matter-of-factness. Ira Levin tells a story of mounting terror and icy climactic shock in a book that manages to be wildly entertaining as well.
What a great book! Of course, we’ve all seen the movie, but I once I found out it was based on a book . . . so I read it and I love it so much! I’m not sure I’d even call this horror. I’d classify it more as suspense with a slight horror twist. The Bramford is a great setting and Levin did a superb job of building up the tension slowly and subtly, until the twist just pounces and you’re left speechless. The only other author who is this successful at a slow burn is Shirley Jackson, and even she wasn’t this subtle.
Rosemary is an excellent character who both conforms to and breaks the 60’s housewife stereotypes. You also get a great look into the decade and feel like you’re actually living it. Even if you don’t like horror, I would still recommend this book because it’s such a awesome story! It’s easy to read and quick to get through!