Liar's Room

Liar's Room
Age Range
Release Date
November 02, 2021
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This spooky stand-alone from MG horror expert Dan Poblocki is perfect for fans of Katherine Arden and Victoria Schwab!
Simon is a liar. Stella and Alex know this about their new stepbrother, so they aren't bothered by his stories about their new house. Wildwyck, a former schoolhouse for misbehaved boys, might have plenty of creaks and shadows, but the twins know that ghosts aren't real. But Simon is getting harder and harder to ignore, as his cries for attention become increasingly dangerous and difficult to explain.

Stella and Alex have to consider . . . could Simon actually be telling the truth? As they look for answers, they learn that the history of Wildwyck is more sinister than they could have imagined. And when a shocking truth is revealed, it's not clear who can be trusted anymore.

Will the three siblings be able to put aside their differences to save their family . . . before it's too late?

Editor review

1 review
From an Emerging Horror Master
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
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Stella and Alex aren't thrilled to move to Frost Meadow from Brooklyn, but are glad of a change of scenery after their father's death. They like their new stepfather, and Wildwyck is a cool, spooky former boys' school that their mom hopes to turn into town homes. What they can't stand is their stepbrother, Simon. He's a year younger, will unfortunately go to their school as they start 6th grade, and lies all the time to get the twins in trouble. He seems to enjoy it, and they see him smirking when he causes problems in the household. He claims that Wildwyck is haunted, and often runs breathlessly into a room to cause commotion over problems that don't exist. There are times, like when the three find a graveyard in the woods on the property, that even Stella and Alex feel uncomfortable vibes from the past. The daughter of the couple that ran they school, Peggy Wildwyck, died at the age of 12 in 1975 under somewhat suspicious circumstances. Is she the ghost of the little girl they catch glimpses of, or is she behind the eerie humming? When the twins start school, they are befriended by Gordon, who lives with his grandmother and has an odd fascination with their home. They learn a bit from him, as well as from one of their teachers, who started his career there in 1974. We also hear, in journal form, from Simon's brother, Zachary, who wishes that he could have stayed in Ohio with his mother, and who doesn't like his brother's lying any more than his step siblings do. As the secrets of the school are slowly revealed, the horrible treatment of the boys make the children wonder if the house is haunted by the spirits of a boy who died. When they uncover the small rooms where the children were locked in for punishment, will they get any closer to solving the mystery of the hauntings and putting the spirits to rest?
Good Points
Poblocki knows just the kind of scary ghost stories that young readers like, and his books, from Nightmarys (2010) to Ghost Hunter's Daughter (2020) all circulate very well in my library, with the most popular being The Ghost of Graylock, which is also located in Frost Meadow and gets a mention here when Zachary visits it with his friends. He does a good job of creating ghosts with particular ties to places, so that once the characters figure out what is haunting them, they can help the ghosts make peace and move on. Poblocki definitely knows his way around creepy houses, and Wildwyck is creeptastic from the basement to the attic.

The family dynamics in this one were really well done. We don't really find out much about the father's death, just a bit about how Stella and Alex are dealing with it, but it's interesting to see how the blended family comes together. The fact that the parents are struggling and meeting with a marriage counselor is interesting, but it's Stella and Alex's strong connection that holds the story together. Simon is a horrible child, so when he gets his due a couple of times, it's easy to enjoy his pain. Of course, when the mystery is solved, the whole family is a lot better off, and that's gratifying to see as well.

Zachary is a bit of a mystery, and his journal keeping isn't as straight forward as it seems, but there is an clever twist involving his presence that I don't want to ruin.

Readers who are sure that is they move to a new house, it will be haunted and have already polished off Sutherland's The Nightmare Next Door, Currie's Scritch Scratch and Lawrence's The Stitchers will love investigating the sordid history of Wildwyck. I'm hoping for more stand alone tales that take place in Frost Meadow!
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