If you're looking for truly terrifying fare to read aloud on Halloween, look no further than Vivian Vande Velde's book, All Hallows' Eve. All 13 stories in the collection take place on Halloween night. In "Pretending," Brian drives into the country to pick up his date for the evening and discovers that her parents seem a lot like vampiresóor worse. Janelle visits a cemetery with her ninth-grade class in "Cemetery Field Trio," only to receive help from a most unexpected source when she is attacked in a mausoleum. And in the truly frightening "When and How," Marissa and her friends make a trip to a psychic who has the power to predict the time and place of death.
Readers will find themselves in good hands here. Vande Velde, who won an Edgar Award for her medieval mystery, Never Trust a Dead Man, is an expert at crafting hair-raising suspense.
Deborah Hopkinson's latest book for young readers is Into the Firestorm, A Novel of San Francisco 1906. Copyright 2006 BookPage Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2007 Spring
In thirteen creepy tales, Vande Velde draws readers in with her conversational tone and familiar situations (meeting a date's parents, driving home from a party) before skillfully and swiftly shifting the narratives in unsettling, sometimes terrifying, directions. The mostly contemporary teenage characters not only balance the stories' menacing elements but also make the unexpected twists of fate that much more effective. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2006 #5
"Don't be shy. Don't be afraid. Come on in. Granny doesn't bite." So begins the introductory short story in this creepy collection, and it's a fitting invitation to the whole (which includes at least one previously published entry: "Morgan Roehmar's Boys" appeared in Deborah Noyes's Gothic!, rev. 11/04). The thirteen tales find Vande Velde doing what she does best: like Granny, this mistress of the macabre draws readers in with her familiar, conversational tone and easily recognizable situations (meeting your date's parents, driving home from a party) before skillfully and swiftly shifting the narratives in unsettling, sometimes terrifying, directions -- sometimes more than once. Sure, these Halloween stories feature ghosts and witches and spells; but the ghosts aren't friendly, the witches are darkly powerful, and the spells destroy lives. Vampires, werewolves, and a psychic with dead-on predictions make appearances; grisly murder and revenge are frequent topics. Vande Velde's light and breezy voice and her mostly contemporary teenage characters not only balance the stories' menacing elements but also make the unexpected twists of fate that much more effective. The fun is in trying to figure out what's real, what's supernatural, and what might happen next. Vande Velde's narrative tricks are a treat. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2006 August #1
These new tales are all set on Halloween, and readers hoping for eerie doings featuring a cast of ghosts and unwary young folk won't be disappointed. From a spectral serial killer who rises again in "Morgan Roehmar's Boys" to a helpful clan that rescues a terrified teen from a maniac during a "Cemetery Field Trip," most of the dead-but-not-gone characters are still tangible enough to work their wills on the living. Tossing in the occasional witch ("Come in and Rest a Spell"), vampire ("My Real Mother") or werewolf ("Pretending"), Vande Velde dishes up a varied menu of voices, settings and plot twists. Though the spark of brilliance that lights up the stories in her Being Dead (2001), and most of her longer fantasies, shines more palely here, there's plenty to chill, challenge or even charm. (Short stories. 10-13) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Media Connection - April/May 2007
How appropriate, 13 creepy, often gory, stories that all take place on Halloween. The stories run the gamut- ghosts, witches, vampires, werewolves, and psychic predictions of doom. "Holding On" is about Harlan whose dead parents visit him on Halloween. In "Cemetery Field Trip," a girl who strays from her class is almost the victim of a rapist, but escapes as the ghosts in the tomb punish her attacker. Evelyn in "My Real Mother" seeks out her biological parents, who turn out to be vampires, only to find they really didn't want her at all. Alas, she has already murdered her adoptive parents. This is the perfect volume to promote during the Halloween season, but will be read year round. Some of the stories are told in first person and are short enough to be used as unusual monologues for those quirky theater students. Recommended. Lee Gordon, Librarian, Sierra Vista High School, Las Vegas, Nevada ¬© 2007 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
School Library Journal Reviews 2006 November
Gr 6 Up-A collection of 13 stories that will thrill and chill readers. Each tale takes place on Halloween, and some stories are variations on familiar tales. Many are set in upstate New York, which lends a nice Ichabod Crane feel to the book. Well crafted, these spine-tingling selections rely on "gotcha" moments and old-fashioned suspense rather than gross-out horror. While all of them are enjoyable and worth mulling over, several stand out: in the creepy "Morgan Roehmar's Boys," a girl acting the part of a knifing victim during a haunted hayride comes face to face with a long-dead child murderer. "Pretending" describes a first date gone horribly wrong. "MARIAN" features a teen driver who finds himself at the mercy of his car, and the horrifying "My Real Mother" describes an adopted teen who searches for her blood (and, as it turns out, blood-sucking) mother, while leaving behind a gruesome mess at her adoptive parents' home. The writing is crisp and concise and truly packs a punch. Fans of horror fiction and suspense will not be disappointed.-Elaine Baran Black, Gwinnett County Public Library, Lawrenceville, GA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2006 December
Halloween, or All Hallows' Eve, has long been a time of ghoulies and ghosties. Vande Velde takes the reader into the heart of that haunted time with these stories, each set on Halloween night. A class trip to a cemetery proves almost fatal for a teenage girl. Five friends decide to consult a psychic, but they might not like what the future has in store for them. A boy learns the hard way the consequences of being rude to a witch. Two girls are "best friends forever" and one of them intends to keep it that way Most of Vande Velde's work has a fantasy or spooky element to it, but in this collection she focuses on more traditional horror stories. The main characters do not meet with a good end in many cases. The stories are mostly strong, especially the surprising Morgan Roehmar's Boys and the poignant Holding On, although they rely rather heavily on the surprise twist at the end, which sometimes is not much of a surprise and seems forced. Because it is a collection of horror tales, there is some blood and violence but little strong language and few adult situations. The cover is appropriately ghostly, with a blurry face, mouth open in a scream, and a blood-red color scheme. It is a recommended purchase, not only because this collection of stories is nicely done but also because of the dearth of decently written horror for the middle grades.-Snow Wildsmith 3Q 4P M J Copyright 2006 Voya Reviews.