THE BLACK HEART CRYPT
Haunted Mystery #4
Now Available in Paperback!
WINNER OF THE AGATHA AWARD! (Best Children's/Young Adult Novel)
Halloween. Dressing up, eating candy, carving pumpkins, and going to parties.
Most kids' favorite night of the year.
Not Zack Jennings.
Zack knows that on Halloween, the veil separating the ghostly plane from the human world is very, very thin. Powerful spirits can cross over and do some serious mischief.
In this fourth volume of Chris Grabenstein's popular Haunted Mysteries series, Zack must once again do battle with malevolent spirits. With the assistance of three dotty aunts (and their crazy cats), he must also save his town from a 200-year-old threat.
Random House, Hardcover, August 2011, ISBN: 978-0375869006
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"Thirteen bad-seed specters from the same family escape from their crypt one Halloween. They range from an 18th-century highwayman to a murderous Capone-era gangster dubbed "Crazy Izzy" and were all confined in the same tomb years ago thanks to spells cast by Zack Jennings' three great-aunts. Eleven-year-old Zack's inherited ability to see ghosts may be a mixed blessing at best, but it comes in handy when the 13 spectral Icklebys break out, seize control of their nerdy but increasingly willing descendant Norman and embark on a vengeful crime spree. Fortunately, most of the Icklebys turn out to be easily sidetracked, and equally fortunately Zack has allies on both sides of the dirt (as the author puts it), from the aforementioned great-aunts (weird sisters indeed, flying in from their Florida retirement home with a full stock of witchly goods and exorcism chants) to a headless cat ghost. As in Zack's three previous Haunted Mystery outings (The Smoky Corridor, 2010, etc.), the pace never flags. Through flurries of ultra-short chapters, events spiral to a suspenseful climax."
"In the fourth book in the Haunted Mystery series, Grabenstein continues the saga of 11-year-old Zack Jennings, who is burdened by his ability to see ghosts. Things have gotten better since he's moved in with his father and stepmother, following the death of his troubled and unloving biological mother. But on Halloween, when the dead can "reach through the veil" separating them from the living, a family of ghosts called the Icklebys seeks revenge on Zack's family over a longstanding feud. To protect Zack, his witchy aunts, Hannah, Sophie, and Ginny, have also come to visit, adding their eccentricities and knowledge of their family's supernatural legacy to the mix. Grabenstein treads familiar territory with his strain of goofy humor, but his exploration of darkness and malevolence—Zack's recollections of his mother's abuse, her tortured ghost, a wicked Ickleby patriarch who has "no qualms about killing children," and a character who is seduced by the forces of evil—set off the cartoonish atmosphere. It's a well-plotted story with high-stakes consequences that should insure fans' continued investment in Zack's adventures."
"Gruesome, hilarious, and truly scary... a great read-aloud for Halloween... The story is set in contemporary New England... but the horror is timeless. Caught up in the fast-paced action, kids will want to share the irreverent commentary, including the occasional gross-out rhyme: 'There's one little worm that's very shy / Crawls in your stomach and out your eye.'"
"This novel speeds along at a breakneck pace, hauling readers along as Zack and his friends (and his dog, Zipper) attempt to dodge and defeat the vengeful, rather inept, spirits. The action-packed short chapters and vivid imagery will make this book an easy sell to young teens and reluctant readers, even if they haven't read the previous books in the series."
—School Library Journal
"The Black Heart Crypt is Chris Grabenstein's creepiest, and best, Haunted Mystery yet."
—Lesa's Book Critiques
"Chris Grabenstein fills his characters with plenty of humor and realistic situations, even among the ghosts and mysteries. Zack is believable as he fights demons—living and post-living—and readers will be drawn in to find out what happens. This is a strong series to be enjoyed by both boys and girls, as well as adults."
—Amy Alessio, KidsReads