Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE PRICKER BOY by Reade Scott Whinnem

THE PRICKER BOY

By Reade Scott Whinnem

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-375-85719-5
Publisher: Random House

A slow-going psychological thriller that is also part horror, part ghost story. Fourteen-year-old Stucks Cumberland, who lives year-round in a vacation community two hours outside of New York City, reunites annually with his summer friends, but this year, his best friend Pete, diagnosed “with potential for violence,” won’t join in. As they gather around the fire pit, Ronnie, the resident storyteller, spins yarns (with new details) of the legendary “Pricker Boy,” who was tricked by his peers and vanished in the local woods 100 years ago; covered in thorns and seeking revenge, he killed at least two children. When a well-preserved package turns up of old, beloved objects that the kids gave up doing “widow's walks” to ward off the Pricker Boy, Stucks and his friends take risks, venturing further into the woods to discern if the “spiked bogeyman” is real or not. The clues in this too-full story of friendship and guilt do not piece together seamlessly, so even though the surprise ending adds depth, prior events are hazy. An ambitious effort that hovers close to the ground. (Thriller. 12 & up)