A sleepy town with a dark secret–and the three kids brave enough to uncover it.
Twelve-year-old Eleanor has just moved to Eden Eld to live with her aunt and uncle after her mother was killed in a fire. Her birthday, which falls on Halloween, is just around the corner, and she hopes that this year will be a fresh start at a new life. But then one morning, an ancient grandfather clock counting down thirteen hours appears outside of her bedroom. And then she spots a large black dog with glowing red eyes prowling the grounds of her school. A book of fairytales she’s never heard of almost willingly drops in front of her, as if asking to be read. Something is wrong in the town of Eden Eld.
Eleanor and her new classmates, Pip and Otto, are the only ones who see these “wrong things,” and they also all happen to share a Halloween birthday. Bonded by these odd similarities, the trio uncovers a centuries-old pact the town has with a mysterious figure known as Mr. January: every thirteen years, three thirteen-year-olds disappear, sacrificed in exchange for the town’s unending good fortune. This Halloween, Mr. January is back to collect his payment and Eleanor, Pip, and Otto are to be his next offering…unless they can break the curse before the clock strikes thirteen.
Having enjoyed Rules of Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall, I’ve been wanting to pick this one up for a while. Now I’m kind of mad at myself for not picking it up sooner because I loved it. While the setting and story took some time to come together, I felt it was a good pacing for the intended audience. This story contained just the right amount of spooky and wrongness to set up the curse upon the town and was a strong beginning to a series. Marshall’s writing style had a great flow to it and I felt had just as much atmosphere as her writing for slightly older audiences. I will definitely be picking up the next book in the series since I have to know what happens with Eleanor, Pip and Otto!