Review Detail

Middle Grade Fiction 126
There are many ways a story can echo through life.
Overall rating
 
4.7
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
What worked:
The story centers around an old, tattered library book titled Tales to Keep You Up at Night that Amelia finds in her grandmother’s attic. The book contains a collection of eerie stories beginning with Moll Bowen, a 90-year-old woman using a stiff, leather-bound book with yellowed pages to help her neighbors. Moll’s Well is said to have the purest, sweetest water anywhere, and she uses it to complete the recipes within the book’s pages, although Judge Turner sentences her to death for practicing witchcraft. This event becomes the catalyst for future tales surrounding the book and the well. Adding to the mystery, Amelia’s last name is Turner, and the librarian’s last name is Bowen.
Much of the book is comprised of creepy short stories that seem to be unrelated. However, the names in the stories should become familiar, and Amelia finally discovers connections, even though they’re very improbable. The stories describe witches that can appear as anyone, giant golem-like creatures wandering the forest, pumpkin vines seeking to kill, and other dangers that lurk in the night. The variety of tales will keep readers engaged and wondering where the plot is headed. They create a riddle to be solved with clues that will tingle your spine, and readers may not like the many possible solutions. Young readers may fear the dark after reading these stories!
The format of the plot is a bit unusual since most of it is introduced through the short stories. Brief chapters about Amelia, the main character, pop up throughout, but they mostly share Amelia’s actions between readings. She’s deeply distressed about her grandmother’s disappearance last year, and she’s extremely upset that her mothers have chosen to sell the old house. Amelia wants to learn what really happened to her grandmother, and that spurs the opening of the plot. She eventually uncovers what happened, but it’s not something she ever expected.
What didn’t work as well:
The early stories are unrelated, so understanding an overall conflict or plot is more challenging. You might imagine where the narrative should be going, but the stories don’t easily fit that idea until Amelia discovers how they tie together. They’re woven into a heart-pounding, ominous adventure.
The Final Verdict:
There are many ways a story can echo through life. The ghoulish tales will keep readers up at night, and the format of the narrative will keep readers thinking. The overall book successfully presents a chilling plot that will highly entertain middle-grade readers. I highly recommend you give it a shot.
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