Review Detail

Kids Fiction 437
The eyes! The EYES!
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
After Rae's father goes missing, her mother decides to move to a new town and start over. Rae thinks there is something sinister about the disappearance, and that it has something to do with his work as a scientist studying aliens, but both her mother and her older sister Ava don't want to hear her theories. Rae is glad when a next door neighbor, Brandi, is friendly right away, but is horrified when Brandi is brutally attacked. It turns out that many, many children are being attacked in Whispering Pines, and it's horrifying-- their eyes are removed, and they are psychologically destroyed. Caden knows about this all too well. His mother is a psychic who is often approached by the parents of missing children to get in contact with him, and his own brother, Aiden, has been missing for nine months. What his mother doesn't know is that Caden is responsible. The two had been dabbling in magic, summoning creatures from another plane of existence, and things went badly wrong. Other kids think Caden is "weird" because of his family and his habit of sprinking salt around houses to ward off evil, but Rae forms a bond with him. There's not just something weird in their town; there are LOTS of weird things. Between Green On, the energy company, whose representative seems creepy, and Dr. Anderson, Rae's therapist who seems to counsel all of the children who go missing, Rae and Caden know they need to get to the bottom of things before more children are damaged. With the help of classmates Alyssa and Vivienne, they try to decode the secrets of The Other Place and the horrifying presence of the Unseeing.
Good Points
Aside from the obvious attraction of demons ripping out people's eyes in the woods,(which a surprising amount of middle grade readers enjoy reading about) there's a lot of psychological horror in this-- parents not quite believing things are going wrong, which is scarier on a deeper level. I thought it was a great touch that Rae was able to make friends right away; it's a tired trope when main characters can't. Caden's position in school society is realistic, but again, it was nice that Rae befriended him despite his quirks. The adults all seem fairly untrustworthy, but some end up being really bad while others, like Caden's mom, are surprisingly supportive. Alyssa was an interesting character; mysterious, and I still don't know exactly what her motives are. Personally, my favorite part was that Rae ran cross country, although I was confused by try outs. Everyone always made our team, which is why at one point we had 75 runners! Definitely purchasing. Did I mention the murderous demons?

For readers who like more of a clue-oriented detective story, there is also a mystery with a missing father added to the creepiness of Whispering Pines.

My students ADORE creepy books. Demons who rip out people's eyes in the creepiest ways. Children chained to furnaces in basements. Magic spells that get kids in trouble. I've never seen Stranger Things, but will definitely hand this to students who are wearing t shirts from that show, as well as student who have enjoyed Hermon's Hide and Seeker, Currie's Scritch Scratch, and the works of K.R. Alexander and Joel Sutherland.
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