The Black Slide by: J.W. Ocker
Published on: August 12, 2022
Number of Pages: 272
An ominous new slide on the playground leads to a world of fear in The Smashed Man of Dread End author J.W. Ocker’s latest middle grade horror, perfect for fans of R.L. Stine and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
Griffin Birch isn’t known for being brave, but there’s something about the new black slide on the elementary school playground that’s made him curious. Against his better judgement, he just has to follow his best friend Laila down.
But the Black Slide is no ordinary piece of playground equipment. What Griffin and Laila find at the other end of this strange portal is a cruel world, populated by bloodthirsty creatures on a quest to become immortal.
And it’s up to Griffin to save himself, his best friend–and the future of earth itself.
Fans of classic horror will devour this creepy adventure packed with more twists and turns than the ominous black slide itself.
I adore middle grade horror. So a book that promises that the ‘playground isn’t fun anymore’ sounded right up my alley. Not to mention that the cover is absolutely awesome and made me wonder what happens when the kids slide down it. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectations.
The story starts off terrific. There’s a torture chamber (classroom) that looks out onto the playground where a new black slide has been put in. But there is something ominous about this slide. Every kid can feel it and no one wants to go on it. But eventually someone does – Griffin, our main character, when he is bullied into sliding down it and that’s where the horror and mystery really starts.
But then I found the next sections a little too slow, which was a shame. The kids are in a nightmare-type world, but it was more of them going or running to places and I never felt the same dramatic tension that I did when the slide was first being introduced. The nightmare world gets to described to us, but I never felt the kids fear and as a result I didn’t feel any fear on their behalf. The creepiest part to me ended up being how one of the kids, a girl, seemingly accepted the pain and the nightmare, as if it were inevitable. She didn’t want to be free or maybe she did, but felt she had to experience pain first. The action picks up in the second half of the book when the kids start interacting with those in the nightmare world. The plot progresses a little faster and I enjoyed it more at that point.
All in all, there were parts I most definitely enjoyed, but there were parts that were a little slow for me. So, a mixed bag. But, then there is the ending, which I loved. Perfect for a horror book.
Thanks to HarperCollins and Netgalley for the advanced reader copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.