The phenomenally versatile, award-winning author, Candace Fleming, gives teen and older tween readers ten ghost stories sure to send chills up their spines. Set in White Cemetery, an actual graveyard outside Chicago, each story takes place during a different time period from the 1860's to the present, and ends with the narrator's death. Some teens die heroically, others ironically, but all due to supernatural causes. Readers will meet walking corpses and witness demonic posession, all against the backdrop of Chicago's rich history—the Great Depression, the World's Fair, Al Capone and his fellow gangsters.
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by Schwartz & Wade
Four Stars: A creepy set of ghost stories perfect for tweens and teens!
Mike scrunches down the gas pedal, his phone ringing in the seat next to him. It is late, and he knows his mother is on the other end of that call, ready to unleash a torrent of frustration at his inability to observe his curfew. His car zooms down the darkened road, as he rushes to get home and avoid her wrath. A figure unexpectedly looms out of the blackness right in the middle of the road. Mike swerves and just barely misses hitting the girl. She asks for a ride and she is dripping wet. The girl, Carol Anne, is calm and quiet on the way home. She tells Mike quietly that she fell in the lake while canoeing, and that she lay on the shore a long time before she was found. She takes off a pair of saddle shoes, worrying that the water harmed her new shoes. He drops her off and continues home, until he sees the shoes on the floor. He turns back to her home. The house is dark, but he just knows that someone is up waiting... Carol's mother answers the door and tells Mike her daughter has been dead for fifty years. If he wants to return the shoes he must take them to the cemetery. Against his better judgement, he goes to the cemetery, unable to let the mystery alone. He does indeed find her grave and something else.....A pack of ghosts waiting in the abandoned grave yard, all waiting for someone to hear their stories. What follows is a chilling night filled with recollections of each ghost's account of the day they died. Will Mike survive his night with the ghosts in the graveyard?
What I Liked:
- I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of ghost stories. Each narrator is a teenager from a different point in time from the eighteen hundreds right up until the present, all set in Chicago. I loved that the author incorporated so many different time periods and that she managed to capture the essence of each era. From the haunting story about a young man in the 1800's with a mental illness that has a Edgar Allen Poe feel, to the young boy who finds himself in a horrifying 1950's comic book alien encounter. I liked that each new voice whisked me to their own particular time.
- I liked that many of the tales had their own inferred morals, from the girl who ends up dying as a result of her history of telling lies, to the boy who sets out to get retribution only to be served his own macabre dish of revenge in the end. The messages are subtle and left up to the reader to decide.
- I loved that each story was completely different from the others. Some are fresh and original, while others borrow on familiar ghostly tales such as the monkey paw, and picking up a ghostly passenger on a deserted road. If you are a fan of ghost stories you should check this book out.
- This is a perfect book for middle graders and young teens as it is not over the top scary and there is nothing graphic or gory in it. I think this would be an excellent book to read aloud to a class during October. I am sure kids will enjoy this collection of scary tales.
- Finally, I appreciated that at the end the author includes a discussion on her inspiration for each story and how the tale came to be. I liked that she explained the reasons for the setting and provided the back story, it totally enriched the book for me.
And The Not So Much:
- It bothers me that the description of the book has a spoiler in it regarding the narrator, Mike. Without giving anything away, this spoiler is inaccurate.
- It is kind of a let down in some cases to be reading the story and see the character get into a sticky situation and knowing that they are going to die, since that is the point of the book; for each ghost to tell their death story. It kind of takes the suspense out since you know each character will meet an untimely end. On the other hand, it is fun to piece everything together and see how each character succumbs.
- While some ghosts definitely die because they got what they deserved, there were a few who died in a noble way. I found myself wishing that they received a happier ending or resolution on the other side.
On The Day I Died is a great little collection of ghostly tales perfect for the younger reader. I especially loved the glimpses into times in the past and exploring some of Chicago's scarier landscape. If you are in the mood for a quick read with some chills and thrills grab this. It is the perfect book for reading aloud during October!
"Mike glanced at the clock and grimaced. He'd rather have a root canal than experience the torture his mother was sure to have in store for him."
"The sky went bright with moonlight, although he couldn't see the moon itself, the tall trees ringing the cemetery had blotted it out. A ground mist, like vaporous tendrils, seeped from the loamy weed-thick earth."
"School? I'd rather be in jail. Heck, in my world there wasn't much difference."
"Through the windows I could see the ornate silver handles of the casket shimmering against the dark wood like some hidden treasure. Jeez, that stiff had more dead than I'd ever had alive."
"Opening a casket's lid was like opening a box on Christmas morning--- you never knew what you'd find inside. A pocket watch? A gold wedding band? A set of pearl cuff links?"
"Except it wasn't a trick of light, because....the hand again. Twitched. Lifted off the chest. Then it slid down, inch by inch, its long fingers making a scratching sound as they dragged across the casket's satin lining until it finally came to rest at her side."
"Left to decay it was creepy as crap. It's gables and towers jutting into the stormy sky like fists, and its dark windows made me think of a skeleton's eye socket. You know, bleak and empty, but still full of secrets."
"Who needs proof?" Aidan finally said with a shrug. "Ghosts just are."
"I recognized the quote. It was the inscription at the entrance to Hell from Dante's Divine Comedy. I had to grin. Who would have thought that I'd actually use something I'd learned in AP English."
"Even if there are no ghosts, the mind creates them."
"The wind whistled again, and the curtains danced to its tune."
"Those who interfere with their fate only meet great sorrow."
"Once you hear a story, it becomes part of you. It can't die."
All quotations are taken from an ARC copy that I received from the publisher courtesy of Netgalley. All opinions are my own and I received no compensation for this review.