Four friends visit a place where it’s Halloween every day, which inspires several witches there to escape and terrorize the friends’ town in Scygiel’s YA horror yarn.
Danny Hays, Bobby Brown, Jeff Casey, and Adam Holmes, all just past their teens, have been childhood pals and next-door neighbors for years in Oak Mill, Michigan, and they crave adventure. A Sunday trip to the local oak mills holds promise, but ultimately nothing comes of it. It’s there, however, that a magical crow spots them and follows them home. The next night, the same crow and a ghost named Charles visit each friend’s room; Charles drops off letters and mischievously leaves their bedroom doors ajar. The missives contain a time, date, and location back at the mills, where the crow and Charles, after having some fun scaring the friends, invite them to the Halloween Village, accessible through a secret room in the town’s Haunted Mansion. The village, where it’s Halloween 365 days a year, is populated by witches and mummies and boasts a wealth of candy. The affable residents tell the young men that they’re there to learn the history of Halloween and the 600-year-old town. The downside is that four witches take the opportunity to flee the village for the sole purpose of frightening all the people in Oak Mill. Scygiel’s short novel is a quick read that highlights all the fun of Halloween. It’s certainly enjoyable, though never outright scary, as nearly everyone in the village welcomes the four guys and the witches’ plan isn’t truly sinister. The author forgoes giving Danny and friends individual personalities, though, so they’re disappointingly interchangeable: they’re all 20 years old, live with their parents, and say many of the same things, such as, “You got that right.” The action is likewise repetitive: each friend is shown waking up, saying good morning to his mother and father, and asking about the open door and letter, for example. Nevertheless, Scygiel ups the ante in the final act as the four buddies determine to stop the witches and take them back to the village. There’s also a hint of another potential nightmare awaiting the friends at the end of the novel.
This bare-bones supernatural story still entertains despite its indistinctive quartet of heroes.