THE HUNTED by Kathryn Ptacek


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 Wavering adult/young-adult suspenser passing perhaps as a horror novel, though the horror elements are simply documentary visuals about the Holocaust. Prolific paperback author Ptacek has also edited two anthologies in the Women of Darkness horror series. Eleven-year-old Jessie has moved (it's 1975) to suburban New Jersey with her syrupy, snotty mother and boorish new stepfather. Jessie knows she is about to turn into a woman, but she has also been taken over by a strange creepiness that makes her scream whenever she has to take a shower--which she avoids. Her new next- door neighbor, Wendy, an unmarried novelist, takes her under her wing and even to the doctor to check out a dry throat. Jessie is fearful of this foreign-born Doctor Thorne as well, sensing something about him that brings on the creeps--in fact, she cries out to him Czech, a language she doesn't know. Wendy, meanwhile, finds herself befriended by Stefan Marek, a Czech visitor, who, it turns out, is also a Jewish Nazi-hunter tracking down Thorne. Then Marek learns of Jessie's sudden ability to speak Czech and, in a talk with her in that language, discovers that she has his dead sister's memory of dying under the showers in the gas chamber at Auschwitz. And Thorne was in charge of that death camp. Now Thorne wants to kill Jessie, and it's up to Wendy and Marek to save her.... The slim plot carries you along, but the possession aspect never grows into anything strong. Read the first paragraph of The Member of the Wedding, which voices the sultry sensitivities of an 11-year-old, to see what's missing here.

Pub Date: Jan. 13th, 1993
ISBN: 0-8027-1227-4
Page count: 216pp
Publisher: Walker
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1992