Saturday, June 15, 2024

Camp Sylvania: Moon Madness

Murphy, Julie and Maldonado, Crystal. Camp Sylvania #2: Moon Madness 
May 14, 2024 by Balzer + Bray
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

After a disastrous summer with vampires in Camp Sylvania, the campers are given not only a voucher to attend the new and improved camp, but also a voucher for a friend. Maggie is thrilled to be able to bring her best friend Nora, who is in turn happy to be getting a break from her new stepdad Steve and stepbrother Darren, even though things are going fairly well with the new family. The two are prepared for a great camping experience, but upon arrival find that they are in separate cabins. One is bunking with Kit and Evelyn, and one has a cabin with just Claire, the daughter of Luna, the new camp director. Instead of a weight loss camp, Luna is running a earthy/crunchy holistic healing experience, and one of the first things that is done is to take all of the campers "synthetic" food and toiletries. Several of the campers do hang on to their acne cream! There are breathing workshops, sound baths, primal scream therapy, organic food, and Respectful Sage Burning. Luna's insistence on "moon water", a glowing water used for just about every purpose, gives Maggie and Nora pause, and even Claire admits that there were a few side effects, although none were particularly serious. When counselor Birdie starts to exhibit some odd symptoms, and these eventually spread to the campers, the campers know that this is yet another paranormally connected summer camp, and must work to wrestle control back from Luna. Will junk food and acne cream be their saviors?
Strengths: This is a perfect level of horror for late elementary school students, who might not have had a chance to go to summer camp but are very much looking forward to it. While Luna is not as evil as Sylvia, the director of the camp from the first book, there are still plenty of horrific things occuring that I don't want to spoil. The packing list that included different gems was a good indication of how this camp would work, and was a different approach than the "fat camp" setting in the first book. Maggie and Nora have realistic struggles with their friendship, and the secondary characters are pleasant and helpful. This isn't a graphic novel, although the cover might draw in fans of Sedita's The Pathfinder's Society.
Weaknesses: Chapters were from alternating points of view, and I had some difficulty telling Nora and Maggie apart. Also, it seemed odd that the girls would bring decorative lights, posters, and Squishmallows to camp for just a couple of weeks. There was also a lot of attention to fashionable clothing. Must be a posher camp than I ever attended!
What I really think: This is a good choice for readers who enjoyed Parker's The Devouring Wolf, LaRocca and Baron's The Secret of the Dragon Gems, or other summer camp stories with supernatural elements.

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