SOMETHING WICKED’S IN THOSE WOODS by Marisa Montes

SOMETHING WICKED’S IN THOSE WOODS

Age Range: 10 - 13
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Montes makes a strong debut with this multistranded tale of two orphaned Puerto Ricans whose struggle to cope with being transplanted to northern California is considerably complicated by encounters with ghosts and other supernatural phenomena. Javi is understandably on an emotional sleigh ride. He’s grieving for his parents, feeling fiercely protective of little brother Nico, and surrounded by an often-unfamiliar new world. Furthermore, he’s trying to hold Tití Amparo at arm’s length. She’s a psychology professor who is having a hard time herself adapting to these two new additions to her single household. His worry sharpens when Nico acquires Hamish, an invisible playmate. Imaginary and harmless, Amparo insists, but Javi’s not so sure; there’s something menacing about the surrounding woods, Nico suddenly knows more English than he used to, and just once Javi catches a glimpse in a mirror of a small blond boy in a sailor suit. Then furniture starts moving on its own, faucets are left running, and the lights begin flashing on and off—not Hamish’s doing, Nico claims. While these and other events create mounting suspense, Javi is also trying Amparo’s large but not limitless fund of patience, encountering and responding strongly to prejudiced remarks from both a peer and an adult (a librarian, of all things), and improving his halting English thanks to Willo, a new friend. With Willo’s help, Javi discovers at last that there are two ghosts—a Depression-era child who perished with his brutal kidnapper—plus a poltergeist, created by Javi’s own anger and psychic abilities. The stage is set for a nail-biting rescue when Nico runs off into the storm-swept forest in search of Hamish, and is trapped by the malicious kidnapper’s spirit in an old root cellar. At once a perceptive look at how regional differences in American culture can either mesh or clash, and a rippingly good ghost story, this should find a large and eager audience. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-15-202391-7
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2000




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