Tag Archives: horror

Locke & Key

I stopped reading off my controversial book list for a while because I needed to buff up on modern comics for a graphic novel club I’m planning on launching at my school and thus I became totally obsessed with the Locke & Key series by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez.

Locke & Key cover

This story has got everything that lovers of fantasy and horror look for in a good novel. It’s fast paced, super scary, has huge cliffhangers, and takes place in a verse that is totally realistic and easily imaginable.

The story follows the lives of three sibs: Tyler, Kinsey and Bode Locke, who just moved to their family’s rural New England home. What they don’t know is that the house is full of secrets, and most importantly secret keys, which unlock doors that make the impossible, possible.

From turning into a ghost to super strength to gender bending, the keys that the Locke family uncovers offer endless possibility. There is a dark force afoot though, something evil that is terrorizing the family, in search of the Omega Key, and who knows what door that will open. 

A few people have told me that the first book is über confusing and that keeping the characters straight is a total pita. I cannot disagree, the first book is hard to follow, there’s a lot going on. If you can hold out though– if you can make it to the second book you are sure to be hooked on what I think it one of the greatest horror stories of recent memory. Perhaps that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, as Joe Hill is the progeny of famous horror novelist Stephen King.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes scary stories! Be careful though, this is a graphic novel and as such there are pictures of violence, blood and gore, and other scary stuff.

You know what’s next: stay uncomfortable, keep reading!

Temptation (Secret Diaries #1)



Harrell, J. (1994). Temptation. New York: Scholastic. Print.

Only the first book from this series is included in the collection.

Reader’s Annotation

Joanna is new in town, deciding to move in with her father in the middle of the school year, and she doesn’t know anyone in her high school. She notices Penn and his group right away though, and knows that she’s got to be part of their group, no matter what it takes.

Plot Summary

Joanna is attracted to Penn from the very first moment she lays eyes on him, but she can’t figure out how to get to know him better. He and his group of friends seem so close and mysterious, it’s hard to break in. After Penn invites her to coffee with the gang Joanna feels even less sure of her ability to assimilate into the group, they all seem to be grieving over the disappearance of their friend Laurie and she while she is curious about the missing girl she’d much rather focus her attention on Penn.

As Joanna and Penn become more intimate warning signs begin to flare up. Super smart Casey is going out of his way to be extra annoying, while quite and sensitive Stephen starts have angry outbursts that frighten Joanna. One night she runs across Stephen and Tessa watching their car as it burns up. Joanna doesn’t know what to make of all this, and what she suspects is too terrible to take seriously. Surely this group of close knit friends couldn’t be responsible for the disappearance of one of their own, could they? Is Joanna in danger too?

Critical Evaluation

This is another one of those purely campy novels. It’s terrible, really. The story line is crystal clear, and the Joanna, the lead, has as much depth as a kiddie-pool, her main concern is getting (and holding) the attention of Penn, who drives his red Corvette too fast all over town. I have to admit that when I first read this book 15 or 16 years ago I was totally ga-ga over Penn too, so I guess I can’t fault Joanna that.

Author Information

There’s not a lot of information available about Janice Harrell out there, she isn’t a current author, has no Goodreads or Amazon page and no one has written anything about her in any of the literary review databases. It looks like she published a number of horror and suspense books in the mid-80s to the mid-90s and then completely fell off the radar.


YA Fic, horror, suspense

Curriculum Ties


Booktalk Ideas

What would you do in Joanna’s shoes? Would you keep the groups secret or go to the police?

Reading Level/Interest Age 


Challenge Issues

This is a suspenseful horror novel and some parents/patrons may object to some of the material contained within. This library encourages ever reader’s right to read, and strongly urges parents and teens to discuss and decide what is right for them to read. We do not support censorship, in accordance with the ALA Library Bill of Rights.

Reason for Inclusion

I really liked this novel when I was a teenager and included it for that reason alone.

The Vanishing Game

Vanishing Game Book Cover

Myers, K. K.

Reader’s Annotation

Things just haven’t been quite right for Jocelyn since her twin, Jack, died. Once she begins receiving messages from him she finds she must follow the trail to the truth, regardless of the outcome.

Plot Summary

After everything that happened at Seale House Jocelyn and her twin Jack weren’t sure if they’d ever find a place to call home. After they were placed successfully with a nice home Jack died in a fatal car crash. Or did he? About a year after the car crash Jocelyn gets a mysterious letter signed only with the name, Jason December- exactly what Jack called himself at the Seale House. A name only known to Jocelyn and the twin’s close friend from Seale House, Noah.

As Jocelyn makes her way to Noah to ask his help unravelling the mystery of Jason December strange things begin to happen, she is certain someone is following her. When she sneaks into the Seale house to look for signs of her brother she discovers that the terror that the house held for her as a child hasn’t faded, indeed it seems as if the house remembers her and she struggles to get out in one piece.

One thing is clear, Jocelyn can’t go at this alone. With Noah’s reluctant help they follow the path that Jason December has laid out for them, fraught with intrigue and terrible dangers and horrors unimaginable. Jocelyn has no choice, she must find her twin before her past catches up with her.

Critical Evaluation

Vanishing Game is a good horror novel for folks who also like a bit of mystery thrown in. The story is told along two time lines, present day and in a series of flash backs from Jocelyn, Jack and Noah’s childhood. You get a clear picture of the terrible abuse they suffered in their foster house, as a mother that part was particularly unpleasant to read, and Myers does a good job of hooking her reader so that you’re compelled to finish, even reading through some of the requisite cheesy-intense-teen-romance. To top it off this book is genuinely scary! You’re never sure exactly what is going on, if the Seale House is haunted with angry spirits, or if there are hallucinogenic spores in the walls or somethin; you dont know if Jack is alive or dead; or to what lengths the men following Jocelyn and Noah will go to to get the information they seek. Recommended to anyone who likes a bit of a fright!

Author Information

By Myers own account her childhood was grueling and her teenager years were much the same. According to her bio she never wanted to be a writer as much as she has felt compelled to write, climbing inside her character’ s skin and creating their worlds. Vanishing Game is her first novel.


Horror, YA Fiction

Curriculum Ties

Grades 9-10 goal 3.6: Analyze and trace an author’s development of time and sequence, including the use of complex literary devices (e.g., foreshadowing, flashbacks).

Booktalk Ideas

What do you think about the reality Jocelyn has created for herself? Has this reality been fool-proof? What are some of the weaknesses in her story?

Reading Level/Interest Age 


Challenge Issues

This book discusses topics like death and mental illness, and some adults may object to their children’s exposure to those sensitive topics.

A collection policy that clearly states that the library strongly supports the ALA Bill of Rights and everyone’s freedom to read should offer some protection to the library. The use of flashbacks in The Vanishing Game supports the California Department of Education English Language Arts Content Standards for grades 9 and 10. Finally, alternate titles could be The Long Walk by Stephen King and What She Left Behind by Tracy Bilen.

Reason for inclusion

This title is a good one for any fan of horror and mystery. It’s included in the collection to appeal to those readers.


Myers, K.K. (2012). Bio of Kate Kae Myers. Retrieved from: http://www.katekaemyers.com/