Five unhappy children think their troubles are over when they step inside a mysterious house—until the house refuses to let them leave.
The kids have one thing in common: misery, caused by a variety of neurodivergent symptoms. Poppy, a white orphan living in a group home, has only one friend in the world: the dead girl she sees behind her in every mirror. In Japanese-American Azumi’s disturbing dreams, she relives the loss of her sister in the Aokighara forest and is terrified that she is losing herself as well. Not only can no one hear the overwhelmingly beautiful music in white Marcus’ red head; no one understands his desperate need to play. And as their acting career abruptly ends, brown-skinned twins Dash and Dylan are losing their grip—Dash is having nightmares about failing to save his brother, and when Dylan isn’t feeling invisible, he is having flashbacks to a trauma he can’t quite grasp. All five receive different letters offering to make their dreams come true, but when they all arrive at Larkspur, nothing greets them but endless rooms and masked, murderous ghosts—it’s one thing to survive being different, it's quite another to survive a haunting. Although the choice to equate neurodivergence with the influence of hauntings is questionable, Poblocki’s meticulously crafted narrative is chilling and reminiscent of the best Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark? terrors.
A thrill for any reader who knows the only thing more frightening than an unopened door is being locked behind one. (mobile app) (Horror. 10-15)