Scare Scape (Scare Scape #1)

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Scare Scape (Scare Scape #1)
Age Range
Release Date
August 27, 2013
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Three wishes go awry in a middle-grade debut as comical as it is spooky. Toxic Vapor Worms. Shark Hounds. King-Crab Spiders. Two-Headed Mutant Rodents. These are just a few of the beasts featured in the pages of Scare Scape, the creepiest comic book around. They are vicious. They are terrifying. They are, luckily, totally made up. Morton Clay is a huge fan of Scare Scape, so he isn't easily frightened. He's not afraid of the dark, or grossed-out by bugs and slugs. But when Morton and his siblings, James and Melissa, find an old stone statue buried in their yard, they discover that there is good reason to be afraid. . . . Spooky, funny, and fresh, Sam Fisher's middle-grade debut explores the bonds and rivalries that are unique to siblings . . . even as it revels in monstrous mayhem!

Editor reviews

2 reviews
Things that go bump in the night... and more!
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Morton, James and Melissa move from their bright apartment in the city to a creepy old house in a town where their British born father can work in a planetarium. The move seems to be motivated by their mother's recent death, but this is only mentioned briefly. Morton is a huge fan of the Scare Scape comics, although his brother is no longer interested in them. After they break a lawn mower on a creepy statue of a garden gnome and make wishes on it, things start to happen. Melissa gets a huge closet filled with clothes, and Morton's Scare Scape toys start to come to life. He wanted them to be more realistic-- not start terrorizing the neighborhood! Things happen at a frenetic pace, and it's tough to keep on top of the flesh-eating slugs and zombie twins. The siblings are helped by Morton's new friend Robbie, and Melissa's new friend Wendy, and they need all the help they can get when James turns into a Snarf and requires rotting food to eat. Living in the house of Scare Scape author John King turns out to be quite challenging, and not as much fun as Morton would have thought! Can the siblings manage the magic so that their new home isn't destroyed by creatures such as the zombie twins?

It's rare to see a book where the siblings are portrayed as having a close but occasionally troublesome relationship, so it was great to see Morton, James and Melissa interact. The situation with their mother's death could use some more explanation, but the way the children are dealing with it is realistic. Morton is sad that James doesn't share his interests anymore, and Melissa is a bit irritated that James seems to be getting along well with HER new friend, Wendy. The father is busy, but present, cooking horrible dinners and making sure the children are okay. Supportive family is missing in so many middle grade books, so I appreciated that.

It is also hard to find books with monsters, and I've had a lot of students asking for them. The illustrated "monster deck" illustrating and describing the attributes of the various creatures will be a big hit with readers who wish that they could get their hands on John King's Scare Scape comics!

The book has a fair amount of action with great details like James the Snarf belching yellow smog and King Crab spiders chasing students. I liked the mystery of what happened to John King, but I wish that this portion of the story would have been tightened up a little bit. There is a lot going on, and readers who like monsters are generally a bit more interested in the antics of zombie twins rather than the motivation of creepy authors.

For readers who liked Lorey's Monster Academy or R.L. Stine's Goosebumps books, Scare Scape is a natural choice, and I can even see recommending this to readers who like family tales like The Penderwicks but want something creepy and more exciting.
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Spooky Fun
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Plot/Characters/Writing Style
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What I Loved:

Creepy creatures and a spooky old house with secrets provide the vehicle for a heartwarming story of three siblings who learn to stop fighting and start working together as a team. The initial tension and fighting between the siblings is entirely realistic, especially given the recent loss of their mother and their move into a new town. Each character is well developed and given room to grow throughout the story. Each also has something important to contribute to the resolution of the novel's conflict. Readers will empathize with the characters, especially with the narrator Morton, and will cheer them on as they face the terror that has taken over their town.

The comic-book-come-to-life was also very well done. The drawings and information about each monster will remind readers of trading cards, and the scenes involving the various creatures will keep readers flying through the pages. My middle school boy absolutely adored this book because it hit all of his buttons--comic book monsters, action, and secrets. Along the way, he also got to experience realistic and heartwarming sibling relationships and a lesson about putting aside differences to work together as a team.

What Left Me Wanting More:

The pacing at the beginning feels a bit slow. The chapters are long, and it takes a little while to get to the action. Reluctant readers may need a push to keep going, but they will be well rewarded when they do.

Final Verdict:

Creepy, action-packed, and heartwarming, SCARE SCAPE is sure to be a favorite on many a book shelf.
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