The Haunted Mysteries, #3
Finished: Nov. 25, 2010
First Published: Aug. 24, 2010
Publisher: Random House
Genre: children, horror, ghost story
The night before he officially started at his new school, Zack Jennings already had a feeling the place was haunted.
Acquired: Received a review copy from Random House Canada.
Reason for Reading: Next in the series.
Ahh, it was such a blast sitting down with this next book about Zack Jennings, the boy who sees ghosts. Summer is over and Zack is finally starting at his new school. This Middle School has been around since the end of the Civil War when the mansion was donated as such and over the years parts have been added onto it making it a maze of hallways and classrooms. As soon as Zack arrives, he's visited by a ghost from book one who tells him something major is going down at the school; a zombie in the depths of the basement below has reawakened and Zack needs to deal with it and the evil spirit that controls it before he takes over the body of an unknown student in the school.
This has all the ingredients for a great horror story! Two ghost children from 1910 who died in a fire in the school under mysterious circumstances and are out for revenge, a zombie (or two), ghost stories, a few gruesome deaths and children's souls in peril. Zack has been warned that adults cannot be involved so he can't tell his stepmother, Judy, who also sees ghosts, and has been his supernatural sleuthing partner for the first two books. Instead Zack makes friends with two loner/outcast-type kids and they are pulled into the events with Zack. But not only does Zack have to deal with the supernatural, he also has two very alive people on his trail and trying to get into the basements as well, for the original owner of the mansion is said to have stolen a sizable treasure of Confederate gold during the war and hidden it somewhere on the property. These two baddies are related to a soldier buried in the nearby Civil War Cemetery and they know all about people who can communicate with the dead.
I really enjoyed Zack and Judy working together in the first books, so I did miss her presence in this book, but happily she does remain as a minor character. Zack's new friends are both very interesting characters and will make a welcome addition to the cast in future books. Malik is black with a recently out of work dad and an ailing mother who needs a kidney transplant but is currently confined to a wheelchair because they have no insurance and can't afford dialysis at the moment; Azalea appears to be your typical Goth girl on the outside with a morbid interest in death but she and her mom are living with an aunt because her army father is in Afghanistan (I think?) again and she knows once he's back they'll pick up and move again like always.
This is my favourite of the first three books! A great story with interesting ghosts who have creepy backgrounds, and an evil spirit trained in the arts of voodoo and of course the zombie (or two) to make things a little more gruesome. The new characters add elements to the book that is making Zack's personal world more real over the course of the three books. I rarely make definite age suggestions but I think this series will be most appreciated by 10-14's. Older teens will find it too tame and younger than ten may find it too gruesome (unless they are used to that sort of thing). A great horror read for MGs. Highly recommended.
While the books are independent of each other; there is not a continuing story line. Each consecutive book does contain ghostly characters met in previous books, so while not necessary, it does make it more fun to read them in order.