Raven Brooks is certainly an odd town, but Nick’s neighbors might be a bit more dangerous than odd.
Twelve-year-old Nick Roth has moved a lot with his newspaper-editor father and his college-professor mother. He’s never anywhere long enough to call it home or make a real friend. He’s happy when Aaron Peterson from across the street starts a dialogue holding up notes on paper to his bedroom window…and Aaron is even better at picking locks than Nick! (Because of course picking locks is a common hobby among preteens.) But Aaron’s family is strange, and his father alternates between charm and menace. The boys explore an abandoned factory with a hallway full of locked doors and a defunct amusement park tied to the town’s recent past. The longer Nick’s in town, the more he discovers that the recent past is not a happy one…and Aaron’s family appears to be tied to the tragedy that has marked Ravens Brook. Released as a “prequel” to the critically panned stealth-horror video game “Hello Neighbor,” West’s flimsy and uninteresting mystery leaves much to be desired. Nick’s family dynamic is nothing unique, but it is within a stone’s throw of reality—unlike most of the rest of the setup. Two-color illustrations by Heitz offer few clues to the contrived mystery but depict both Nick’s and Aaron’s families as white.
Possibly littered with Easter eggs from the game but not worth reading except by superfans of the game…if such exist. (Adventure. 9-12)