** spoiler alert **
In my 33 years as a compulsive (boarderline obsessive) reader, I have, to date, only read three books that have really and truly creeped me out:
1. The first was "Wait Till Helen Comes," by Mary Downing Hahn, which I read in 5th grade.
2. The second was "Bag of Bones," by Stephen King, which I read in college.
3. The third was "The Stone Child," by Dan Poblocki, which I just finished.
What made these books scary where other horror/gothic wannabe books fell short of the mark? What was it about these books that sent a genuine chill down my spine and made me wish for my childhood nightlight? Well-written as they are, the thing that sets these books apart from the typical scary story is the author's heavy dependence on the reader's imagination to run wild, allowing them to see movements in the corner of their eyes, to transform the everyday noises around them into approaching footsteps. A subtly spooky book that tickles the imagination is far better than one that takes the Buckets-O-Blood and Gallons-O-Guts approacl.
"The Stone Child" offered a particularly delicious chill, something I hadn't gotten out of a book (or movie, for that matter) in several years. In it, young Eddie moves to the town of Gatesweed, a town where his favorite horror author, Nathaniel Olmstead, was rumored to have lived--and mysteriously disappeared. It isn't long before a mysterious coded manuscript (written by Olmstead?) is discovered. As Eddie and his friends begin to decode the work, strange monsters begin appearing, monsters straight from the pages of Olmstead's books. Something truly sinister does not want the children to finish reading the manuscript--and it will do anything to stop them from continuing. Will Eddie and his friends discover the secret of the coded manuscript and find a way to banish the monsters? Or will the most evil of all Olmstead's creations be made a reality?
Five stars! (I'd give it more, if there were the option to do so)