Friday, October 24, 2014

FANTASTIC FRIDAY: Dan Poblocki--Thrillers for Middle Graders


Does an abandoned asylum hold the key to a frightful haunting?

Everyone's heard the stories about Graylock Hall.

It was meant to be a place of healing - a hospital where children and teenagers with mental disorders would be cared for and perhaps even cured. But something went wrong. Several young patients died under mysterious circumstances. Eventually, the hospital was shut down, the building abandoned and left to rot deep in the woods.

As the new kid in town, Neil Cady wants to see Graylock for himself. Especially since rumor has it that the building is haunted. He's got fresh batteries in his flashlight, a camera to document the adventure, and a new best friend watching his back.

Neil might think he's prepared for what he'll find in the dark and decrepit asylum. But he's certainly not prepared for what follows him home. . . .

Scary, suspenseful, and surprising, Dan Poblocki's latest ghost story will keep you turning pages deep into the dead of night.


Dan Poblocki was born in Rhode Island and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

He is the author of The Stone Child, The Nightmarys, The Ghost of Graylock, and The Mysterious Four series. The Book of Bad Things is forthcoming: Aug 28, 2014.

Dan loves reading and writing, playing video games, eating cupcakes, snuggling with his cats - Pedro and Tavi - and telling ghost stories late at night to anyone who'll listen.

Dan hates doing laundry, cleaning his apartment, riding on crowded subway trains, and people who honk car horns excessively.


While I am not usually a fan of thrillers (I used to be, but they got to me to much), this one sounded so good that I had to give it a try.  And I was not disappointed.  The story starts off with a bang as Neil and his friend Wesley, as well as his sister and Wesley's brother go out to the island where the supposedly haunted former asylum is located.  After some rather freaky things happen and Neil gets injured the kids are left wondering what is really happening.  When Neil and his sister start having the same nightmares about drowning in the lake, they decide to investigate further and end up getting themselves into a rather scary situation.  I liked the way the suspense grew and grew up until the climax.  It was interesting to have the mystery pieced together as Neil and his sister slowly discovered some rather surprising information.  And the twist at the end with the villain kept me turning the pages as fast as I could.  A thoroughly enjoyable read for those readers who are tough enough to handle a rather frightening story with plenty of twists and turns.  I thought the writing was really good too.


Has Gabriel created a monster?

Gabe and Seth used to play make-believe games in the woods behind Seth's family farm. It was the perfect creepy landscape for imagining they were up against beasts and monsters and villains.

Just as Gabe's decided he's outgrown their childish games, though, it appears that their most monstrous creation could be real.

Is there a ghoulish man-eating creature prowling the woods for victims? Or is Seth just determined to make Gabe think so -- no matter who gets hurt in the process?

Gabe's not sure which answer would prove more unsettling, but he's determined to learn the truth.


I'll confess right off that I found the ending of this one rather shocking, which I guess shouldn't be too surprising since it is a thriller.  But the ending didn't completely satisfy me and one aspect of it really made me unhappy.  The ending does fit with the story and the main character's actions but I still prefer happy endings and this book doesn't really have one.  I won't say more than that because I don't want to spoil it further for those who may want to read it.

The story is well told and intriguing, especially how real the play acting becomes to both Seth and Gabriel.  I found it fascinating the way Poblocki slowly brought the role-playing game and 'real' life together in a shocking conclusion.  I did enjoy the way different parts of the story came together while slowly building the tension while revealing more about what was really going on.  The climax is a doozy.  I would definitely have to put this author at the top of the game for thrillers for the middle grade crowd.  However, I would not recommend this series for those young readers who get easily scared or tend to have nightmares.  But for those that relish the freaky and tragic, I can recommend this book highly.

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