Review Detail

What's happening?
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
What worked:
The author effectively develops expectations and tension as the plot slowly unfolds. The setting is in the remote, wintry woods of Vermont where Mario accompanies Todd and Jewel as they vacation with their grandparents. The grandfather is famous for his books about mystical creatures but he tells the kids all of the fantastic stories are true! The grandmother sings songs she makes up and then tells the others to join in. She’s surprised when no one else knows the words even though she says they’ve sung them before. Readers won’t know what to make of this behavior. The possibilities grow when Todd and Jewel’s parents go out for a walk without leaving a note or taking their phones. The suspense grows when they aren’t found and Mario wonders if the goblin in the garden is real.
Mario has never experienced snow so he’s very excited about accompanying his friends on vacation. He’s open to possibilities so the grandfather’s warnings about a goblin in the garden and an imp in the laundry room impact him more than other characters. His emotions have wide fluctuations as he experiences curiosity, happiness, and fear. His biggest problems arise when he tries to explore the yard and forest and his attempts to take pictures don’t end well. The reactions from Todd and Jewel are confusing since they’ve been in this environment before. Again, these interactions will add to readers’ uncertainty as they try to understand what’s truly happening. Of course, the author saves a couple of surprises for the very end.
What didn’t work as well:
The contrasting moods in the plot don’t always feel consistent. The author develops creepy, eerie feelings but then the tone changes as the kids try to have fun like a normal vacation. Mario should be more freaked out as events unfold but he’s able to maintain his composure around the grandparents. However, the book’s resolution reveals some insight to explain Mario’s behavior.
The final verdict:
This book is a milder version of Stine’s books but it still develops uneasy emotions. Readers will figure out something strange is going on but they won’t know exactly what until the conclusion. Overall, the book offers a fun, entertaining monster story and I recommend you give it a shot.
Report this review Was this review helpful? 0 0


Already have an account? or Create an account