Title: The Crossroads
Author: Chris Grabenstein
Series: A Haunted Mystery | Book 1
Pages: 329 pages
Publisher: Yearling; Reprint edition (May 12, 2009)
Rating: 2 stars (Leave It!-Choose It!)
ZACK, HIS DAD, and new stepmother have just moved back to his father’s hometown, not knowing that their new house has a dark history. Fifty years ago, a crazed killer caused an accident at the nearby crossroads that took 40 innocent lives. He died when his car hit a tree in a fiery crash, and his malevolent spirit has inhabited the tree ever since. During a huge storm, lightning hits the tree, releasing the spirit, who decides his evil spree isn’t over . . . and Zack is directly in his sights.
Award-winning thriller author Chris Grabenstein fills his first book for younger readers with the same humorous and spine-tingling storytelling that has made him a fast favorite with adults.
The novel The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein weaves a ghost story of revenge and death.
The Crossroads was written from multiple third-person perspectives. Literary conflicts included character vs. character and character vs. supernatural. Overall I found The Crossroads to be a rather dull with a flat plot at times. Curiously, there were a great number of plot twists, and while I understood most of them, they did not jar me with surprise as other well done plot twists have. I felt that these plot twists just served to complicate the plot and didn’t really ‘add’ anything to the story.
The story moved rather slowly because it took awhile to establish all the characters who are rather interesting in personality for a middle grade novel. On note of the story: it wasn’t what I was expecting. Like Grabenstein’s book Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library it was written with a light tone befitting of a middle grade novel. But I did not expect to find murder, insanity, divorce, revenge, and evil spirit possessing in a novel classified as middle grade.
CAUTION: SPOILER ALERT! Proceed with caution if you’d like to read The Crossroads in the future.
With a very insane old woman who wants to resurrect her dead fiancé who doesn’t really love her by having him possess the body of his grandson and then have the spirit possessed grandson grow up and marry her (which is downright creepy) and I’m not even sure if what I’m reading is middle grade or an adult novel masquerading as one.
I’m not sure what I was expecting from the book, but it wasn’t what I read. I think what I was expecting was a darker tone to make the story more ominous, but a less dark plot. I actually got the exact opposite: darker plot and light tone. If The Crossroads were written in a darker tone, I actually think it could be an adult novel.
Tone wise, the writing was definitely middle grade, maybe even children’s. But the content was in the gray area between YA and middle grade. Some YA contains scarier things, but I think that Gerda Spratling (the old woman antagonist) should be nowhere near a children’s novel. This is the second book I’ve read lately–The Ocean At the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman being the other–with a young boy as a narrator with a slightly unstable home life and a sinister older woman antagonist. However I personally enjoyed The Ocean at the End of the Lane much more: the tone actually matched the plot and it was classified as either adult or young adult.
While this book was not my type of book, I would recommend this book to people looking for an award winning book or an unusual ghost mystery with an intriguing twisty plot.