Monday, October 22, 2012

Book Review: The Ghost of Graylock by Dan Poblocki

Title: The Ghost of Graylock
Dan Poblocki
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: August 1, 2012
Rating: 3/5

Cover Impressions:
This cover is super-creepy  I love the image of the girl and the fact that her face is almost completely covered in shadow.  The colors are reminiscent of the lake that plays such a large part in the story. 

The Gist:
Neil and his sister, Bree have been sent to spend some time with their aunts while their father chases his dreams and their mother gets treatment for depression.  Attempting to escape the pain of his family life, Neil emerses himself in the tale of Graylock Hall, a local asylum where three patients drowned and a nurse was blamed for their murder.  When the kids and their new-found friends visit the abandoned building, they encounter a fearsome entity and vow never to return.  That is, until they discover that whatever they found, refused to be confined by the walls of Graylock and followed them home.


The Ghost of Graylock is an engrossing, fast-paced read that is perfect for October.  I didn't quite make a connection with the characters, and there really isn't much in the way of their development, but I did enjoy the plot.  I actually found myself putting the book down at one point because I was at home alone and was getting creeped out.  Poblocki manages to create an air of mystery and suspense throughout this entire novel that is punctuated by moments of horror that keep the reader jumping.

While the plot was not dead-on predictable, there were some moments where I really couldn't believe that the kids hadn't figured this out yet.  For example, even upon seeing the ghostly figure and being able to describe her dress, it took them an incredibly long time to realize that there were not looking at the adult nurse in crisp, white uniform but instead at a teenage girl in a floaty, white dress.  It was also a little unbelievable that the aunts were not more concerned with the whereabouts and activities of their niece and nephew.

As I mentioned, the characters are fairly typical teens, but I feel an opportunity was missed for character development.  Neil is struggling with his fears about his own capacity for mental illness but this issue seems to be largely ignored as we reach the end of the book.  Bree seems inconsistent in her attitude towards the ghost hunt (at one point I thought this was hinting toward a possession - I wish that had been the case) and I started to get annoyed with her.  For their part, Wesley and Eric seem to serve only as local informants or transportation and they do not add anything to the story.

Barring its faults, The Ghost of Graylock is a fun, quick and spooky read that is perfect for Halloween.  It does not feature any issues that make it inappropriate for a middle grade audience and has enough of a plot and creep-factor to draw in kids that are a little older as well.

Teaching/Parental Notes:

12 and up
Gender: Both
Sex: None
Violence: Drowning
Inappropriate Language: None
Substance Use/Abuse: None
Other Issues: Discussion of Mental Illness


Anonymous said...

omg I love this book so much I couldn't put it down and that's saying something from a person who doesn't like to read.

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