She’s pretty sure that Grandma Esme is a little bit strange, but it’s only after the woman dies and Maria gets her special spider-shaped ring that the truth gradually emerges. And that truth is crawling with spiders.
Maria is dealing not only with her beloved grandmother’s unexpected death, but also with constant bullying from a popular girl at her school, Claire, who delights in publicly humiliating the impoverished seventh-grader. When Maria discovers that the spider ring gives her a certain control over spiders, it’s not surprising that she might use that power to retaliate against Claire, even though her best friend, Derek, thinks it is a poor idea. Maria’s situation becomes increasingly perilous as she delves into the history and power of the ring, information gained from a somewhat clunky story within the story provided by the owner of a related ring. As she learns more and realizes that Derek’s odd aunt may be more than just peculiar, Maria gains perspective on the relatively inconsequential nature of her school problems. Nicely described, frequent encounters with very large numbers of spiders keep the ick factor high, and the fast pace of the tale will ensure readers are fully engaged.
A horror story for young readers that all but oozes spiders—a surefire template for success. (Fantasy/horror. 9-12)