A note of caution: when a book is dedicated “To Those No Longer Here,” it's probably going to be a scary book.
The Haunting of Derek Stone is a new series by Tony Abbott for kids ages 9-13, and its first installment, City of the Dead, is out in bookstores this month. I picked it up one night before bed, while it was snowing and I was home alone. Just a few minutes into reading it, the lights in my apartment flickered, and the creaking and moaning of my heater came on at full volume. I was SPOOKED, y'all.
But as I read on, it became clear that I would have been spooked even without the flickering lights, softly falling snow, and empty apartment. That's because City of the Dead is the perfect sort of scary book: it's mysterious, enthralling, and entertaining, but it's not too gory or gross. It's fast-paced but told in a personable, addictive tone.
Fourteen-year-old Derek lives in New Orleans, a city known for its legendary haunted history. Derek has an older brother, Ronnie, and a dad who likes trains. He has a mom, too, but she left the family years ago. (These details are important to the story!) In his practical, confessional way, Derek leads us through the events that set off his haunting — even as he himself repeats that he doesn't believe in ghosts!
I'm SO not giving away the story, since I encourage you all to check it out for yourselves, but I will say this: City of the Dead ends abruptly, without any answers or conclusions but with plenty of new questions. Book 2, Bayou Dogs, isn't out until March, but it, too, has an interesting dedication: “To Those We See Again.” A clue to the next adventure Derek faces, maybe? We'll just have to wait and see!
— Morgan, Scholastic Staffer