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WICKED CRUEL by Rich Wallace Kirkus Star


by Rich Wallace

Age Range: 10 - 18

Pub Date: Aug. 6th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-375-86748-4
Publisher: Knopf

Welcome to Cheshire Notch, N.H., “a town where kids grow up aware of the many spirits in their midst.”

“It’s no rumor,” a character states in the opening pages. “I heard it from….Well, I don’t remember where I heard it. But from somebody reliable.” That’s how urban legends work, whether it’s the story of the finger in a Big Mac, a fried rat in a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, or the drowned kid whose body thrashing in the pond can still be heard on dark, quiet nights. Nobody ever seems to have actually witnessed the event in question but hears it related by “my friend’s barber’s cousin in Chicago.” Three ghostly stories explore urban legends—actually rural New England legends—and how they changed lives. A bullied boy moves away and dies from a brain injury, yet he is seen in a music video after his death. A team of horses drowns in a flooded brickyard, but on certain rainy nights, they run free. Five farm children die young, but one mysteriously communicates with a young boy who may be as afraid of girls as of ghosts. Ghosts may not have substance, but these brief novellas do, with their themes of bullying, loneliness, guilt, atonement, life and death.

Well-crafted, eerie tales of the bonds between the dead and the living. Wicked good. (Ghost stories. 10 & up)