An interesting exploration of teenage relationships within a creepy ghost story.
Speaking of books by longtime friends. OK, maybe that is a slight exaggeration. I have never met Kevin Wignall, unlike Jim Geraghty, but I have been reading his books since 2004 and interacting with him via email and blogs nearly ever since. We are “friends” on Facebook so perhaps that counts nowadays.
Anywhoo… Mr. Wignall recently released a short horror story for young adults, This Place of Evil (he also has another book coming out soon, Those Who Disappeared, but more about that closer to publication).
It was an enjoyable and quick read but definitely not something I would have picked up or read if not for it being written by Kevin. It’s basically an exploration of teenage relationships set against the backdrop of a ghost story in an abandoned school (jock. popular kid, underachiever, girls, etc.).
The backstory, in the form of journal entries from their teacher when he was at the school, continues to provide more context/history interspersed with current events, but the creepiness is really just the perception of what it would be like to be trapped in an old, abandoned building with no way to reach anyone after your teacher just disappeared.
With this as a backdrop the high school students explore their relationships and perceptions of each other and themselves. The lead character, Ned, explores how he sees himself and his relationship with his classmates; the romantic interest that motivated him to leave camp early in particular.
As is sometimes the case when I read young adult fiction, I have a hard time really judging a book like this as it is not written for my age group or area of interest. The dialog and interactions of the teens struck me as well done and realistic. It wasn’t particularly scary, but there was a sense of creepiness and tension throughout; that the ghosts or evil that lurks in the building may strike at any moment. When the climax does come it is briefly intense but not particularly violent; again mostly atmospheric.
As I said, it was an interesting read. Mostly because it was short. It wasn’t riveting or intense but I thought the characters were well done and once I started I wanted to find out what happened. There was enough mystery and tension to keep me reading.
So if you have a young adult reader who likes creepy but not necessarily really scary stories, this might be a good fit. And at $3 it is low risk.