Took: A Ghost Story, by Mary Downing Hahn (2015)

Ages 10-14
Took: A Ghost StoryThis latest offering from master storyteller Mary Downing Hahn delivers all the chills and shivers young fans of creepy horror stories are looking for. This isn’t for everyone – it may induce nightmares, so if your youngster likes the idea of scary stories better than the reality, read it yourself first. Daniel and his sister Erica are uprooted from their comfortable Connecticut existence when their parents buy a home in West Virgina. It’s a dilapidated fixer-upper, made irresistible to the adults by Old Auntie who is watching the scene unfold. She is a 200-year-old conjure woman who “lives” in the woods and is seeking a new Girl to do her chores, as she does every 50 years. Erica is seven, and just perfect for Old Auntie’s needs. Twelve-year-old Daniel and Erica watch their parents’ relationship spiral into dysfunction, try to shrug off the insults and bullying of their new classmates, and find themselves squabbling even more than usual. Erica spends all her time with a new doll, whose whispers are preparing her for Auntie. When Daniel follows Erica into the woods and sees what is happening to his sister, he grabs her and forces her home. She drops her doll, and when they go back it is gone. Erica is heartbroken and runs off. When she doesn’t come home, it’s up to Daniel to find her and bring her back, from wherever she is. Old Auntie’s companion in this book is a wild boar she had as a pet, brought back from the dead with a boar’s head, panther teeth, bear claws, and a man’s skeleton for a body. It stands upright, scraps of clothing hanging from its body, and is known to the locals as Bloody Bones. This is a seriously creepy story. I loved the spooky story collections from Alfred Hitchcock when I was a kid, but I wonder if this might have been a little too scary for me back then. Who knows. The ending is a bit too neat for adults, but appropriate for the audience.It’s a perfect Halloween story, and I can see teachers choosing this for a read-aloud to the class. My thanks to NetGalley for the advance e-copy.
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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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