The Black Slide – Book Review

The Black Slide by: J.W. Ocker
Published on: August 12, 2022
Publisher: HarperCollins
Number of Pages: 272

Description

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.

Review

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.

Scritch Scratch – Book Review

By: Lindsay Currie
Published on: September 1, 2020

This one gave me chills. If you are looking for some serious middle grade spooks, then this is for you. The amazing cover has the phrase “Something Terrible Followed Her Home” and indeed it did. There is no “Friendly Ghost” in this story, Claire is clearly being haunted.

I’ve known about the Great Chicago Fire since I was young. However, I never knew how many other horrific tragedies this city has faced. In Scritch Scratch, Claire’s father has a ghost bus tour where he visits potentially haunted sites. Silly me was curious to know more about all the places they visited on the tour and as a result I spent way too much time on the Internet reading about these tragedies. So beware of what you may be getting into when starting this book. It can become so much more than this one story.

The main plot follows Claire who is required to help her dad out on his ghost tour one night even though she thinks it is embarrassing and not scientific. But between stops she sees a young boy among the seats that she can’t remembering counting in her numbers (as per the job her dad gave her at the beginning of the tour). Then, he is gone. But as the days progress she slowly begins to realize it has followed her home and is haunting her in ways that are fairly scary.

Scritch Scratch is a very good middle grade horror book. What I loved is that it wasn’t a fake haunting. In the context of the story, it was serious and very real and Claire finds she needs her brother and her friends (both old and new) to help figure out who is haunting her and why. What I also loved was how the author was able to blend Chicago history into it, which gave it a very authentic feel. On the flip side, I may now be a little too scared to visit Chicago again.

This is a terrific book and one worth reading if you get the chance. Highly recommended to fans of Small Spaces as well as anyone wishing to learn a lot about Chicago history. In addition, I also wish to congratulate the cover artist for a very stunning cover.

Rating: 5 stars

Thank you Sourcebooks and Netgalley for the advanced reader copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.

Description:

For fans of Small Spaces comes a chilling ghost story about a malevolent spirit, an unlucky girl, and a haunting mystery that will tie the two together.

Claire has absolutely no interest in the paranormal. She’s a scientist, which is why she can’t think of anything worse than having to help out her dad on one of his ghost-themed Chicago bus tours. She thinks she’s made it through when she sees a boy with a sad face and dark eyes at the back of the bus. There’s something off about his presence, especially because when she checks at the end of the tour…he’s gone.

Claire tries to brush it off, she must be imagining things, letting her dad’s ghost stories get the best of her. But then the scratching starts. Voices whisper to her in the dark. The number 396 appears everywhere she turns. And the boy with the dark eyes starts following her.

Claire is being haunted. The boy from the bus wants something…and Claire needs to find out what before it’s too late.

The Mulberry Tree – Book Review

By: Allison Rushby
Published on: July 14, 2020

Out of all the genres and subgenres I enjoy, spooky and haunting middle grade stories are among my absolute favorites. Within them are narratives that invite the child in you to be a little scared and spooked, but without being too gory or graphic. Similar to Agatha Christie using poems to help add eerieness to her mysteries such as she did in The Crooked House and Then There Were None, the author of The Mulberry Tree helps set the tone by a poem/song the kids sing when they don’t think the adults are around – a very chilling poem on how the tree will ‘take your daughters…one, two, three.”

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Nightbooks – Audio Book Review

By J.A. White
Audio Book Narrated by Kirby Heyborne
Published on: July 24, 2018

Spooky middle grade stories are one of my favorite genres to read. They have a creep factor, but not too much. Plus, they typically have a happy ending. I say ‘typically’ because I’ve run across a Goosebumps story or two that didn’t. Nightbooks has won or been short-listed for several awards and honors, but what excites me most at this moment is that this particular book is also being adapted for Netflix. Woot!

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The Captivating Flames of Madness – Blog Tour – Book Review

By Jeff Parsons
Published on: April 2, 2018
Blog Tour by: Blackthorn Book Tours

The Captivating Flames of Madness offers a wide variety of short stories that range from creepy and scary to also leaving the reader with a general sense of unease. But, amongst the collection there are several that also give you something to think about long after you’ve left the story.

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Camp Red Moon – Audio Book Review

Audible Original By: R.L. Stine
Published: October 3, 2019
Length: 4 hrs. 32 min

This full-ensemble audio book has some seriously creepy moments in it. Some of it is fun-creepy and then other times it is just creepy-creepy. But overall, I have one major question – what kind of non-real parents are sending their kids to Camp Red Moon? Out of all the youth camps in the world they are choosing to send their precious babies to a camp where robots take over and tragic deaths occur – not to mention werewolves, ghosts, and other monsters.

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The Whispered Tales of Graves Grove

An Anthology Edited by: J.S. Bailey and Kelsey Keating
Published on: October 10, 2017

In April of 1880, Samuel Graves and his followers arrived in British Columbia, where they established the town known as Graves Grove.  However, most of his followers probably didn’t know that Samuel was dedicating this town a being called Talakoth.  This collection of short stories tells of only some of the events that occurred there.

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