A winter vacation takes a terrifying turn.
Two months after their encounter with “the smiling man” in Small Spaces (2018), sixth graders Coco, Ollie, and Brian go on a ski trip. Though money has been tight, Ollie’s dad won a week at Vermont’s newest ski resort, Mount Hemlock, as an incentive for his job selling solar panels. Unfortunately, the lucky trip doesn’t turn out so lucky. On the way there, Coco dreams of a gray-faced, frozen girl who’s looking for her lost bones. When Ollie starts having similar dreams, it becomes clear that there’s a reason Mount Hemlock has never before been open to the public. The surprising arrival of a paranormal investigator named Mr. Voland offers the kids a chance to get to the bottom of things. But do they really want to know the truth about what lurks at Hemlock Lodge? With warnings like “Don’t listen to the voices,” the plot initially reads similarly to its predecessor. However, Arden creates far more than just a carbon copy in a different setting. Those who had secondary roles in the first book get deeper characterization, especially white Coco and black, bookish jock Brian. (Ollie is also white) Arden’s high scare factor, richly drawn mountain setting, relevant themes of loss and belonging, and vividly eerie descriptions evoke the very best of horror for this age set.Genuinely bone-chilling. (Horror. 8-13)