Poblocki, Dan. The Book of Bad Things.
August 26th 2014
by Scholastic Press
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Cassidy loves spending the summer in a community away from the city, in a stable family, with a friend, Joey, to play with. She's back again, but this time, it's a last minute arrangement, and her host family forgets to pick her up. She does run into the nice Hal, who helps, but she knows that things are not going to be the way they were. Last summer, Joey's dog died after choking on a piece of blanket that he pulled out of the basement of Ursula Chambers' house, and Joey blames Cassidy and hasn't been the same since. Ursula has since passed away, and her house is found to be crowded with all manner of objects. Several people have taken things from the house... to their peril. When several people die, and their corpses go missing, Cassidy begins to suspect that something very evil is going on. With the help of neighbor Ping, she and Joey start to investigate and find out that Ursula's house was moved when the subdivision was built, and is now located in a nexus that seems to be drawing things into it. When they go into the house, they find that not only is it crowded with objects, but the community members who died make a surprising appearance. Things go from bad to worse when they think Hal has died, and the group research how to stop the evil from encroaching on their town. Framed by entries from Cassidy's notebook where she describes "bad things" in order to not be afraid of them, this story eventually makes this notebook (and the reason for it) and integral part of the story, and the solution to the problem.
Strengths: I definitely agree that Poblocki is a "modern master of the macabre". We could have ten authors writing stories like his, and there still wouldn't be enough to suit my readers. This is another great story, probably my second favorite, right behind The Ghost of Greylock. There's the supernatural, some zombies, emotional trauma, and lots and lots of scary twists. A must purchase for libraries everywhere!
Weaknesses: Cassidy's notebook entries are in a hand written font that was difficult for my old eyes to read in the E ARC, and weren't strictly necessary to the plot. I can see why they were included, though.