ISBN 978-1-4814-1886-7 $17.99
Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 8-10
Seventeen-year-old Stella remembers nothing from the afternoon eleven years ago when she and her friend Jeanie entered the local woods and only Stella returned. Stella has tried her best to move past the tragedy of Jeanie’s disappearance, becoming one of the popular girls, remaining coolly aloof whenever the incident is brought up, and generally holding people at an arm’s length. Now, however, a new body has shown up—a redheaded little girl, just like Jeanie was—and Stella believes there may be more deaths if she can’t regain her memory. Old Mrs. Griever insists that Jeanie was taken by the Creeping, a malevolent supernatural force in the forest that has been preying on little girls for centuries, while the town detective, Shane, believes that a human monster is responsible. The book clunkily bounces between the two theories, so the terror of each is muted by the possibility of the other. Stella’s character arc, however, is more deftly developed, as the armor she has built up over the years is chipped away and she is left to confront both her grief and guilt over Jeanie’s disappearance. Ultimately, though, the book is simply overstuffed, trying to mete out messages about everything from high school dynamics to the human capacity for evil to the power of memory. Wasserman’s The Waking Dark (BCCB 10/13) is more effective in its blend of supernatural and ordinary evil, but this may still please horror fans looking for a creepy thrill.