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The Black Heart Crypt  The Smoky Corridor  The Hanging Hill  The Crossroads

Haunted Mystery #2

 WINNER OF THE AGATHA AWARD (Best Children's/Young Adult Novel)!


How serious is stage fright?

Well, at the Hanging Hill Playhouse, it can kill you!

Meet Zack and Judy Jennings. Just your average ghost-seeing kid and his famous-author stepmother. Off to enjoy a relaxing summer at a theater doing a production of Curiosity Cat based on Judy's books.

But the director has another show in mind, and that production requires a child born under a full moon. A child who might not survive opening night.

And Zack? He was born under a full moon.

Once again, Chris Grabenstein provides a generous serving of sidesplitting laughs and lie-awake-at-night chills as Zack realizes that surviving the Crossroads was just the beginning of his ghost troubles.


Random House Children's

To purchase a personalized copy, please contact:
Book Culture on Columbus
450 Columbus Avenue
New York, NY, 10024
Phone 212-595-1962

Random House, Hardcover, August 2009, ISBN: 978-0375846991
Random House, Paperback, August 2010, ISBN: 978-0375847004



 Read the first chapter
 Check out the Hanging Hill Study Guide
 The cover cat
 The theatre
 The magician
 The production

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The Hanging Hill Trailer

Parker's song about The Hanging Hill



 One of the Best Halloween Books For Kids

"Thrills and chills of the ectoplasmic and mildly gruesome kind abound in this exciting, humorous sequel to The Crossroads (2008), the author's first novel about 11-year-old Zack Jennings, who sees and vanquishes ghosts. Zack and his famous-author stepmom Judy arrive at a regional theater in Connecticut where a musical based on Judy's popular books is to be produced. There's more to this theater than greasepaint and sawdust, however. (Hint: Not for nothing is it called "The Hanging Hill Playhouse.") Before long Zack encounters all manner of specters who met their demise in and around the place, and readers are let in on the secret, demented doings of the director, whose dabblings in necromancy are designed to resurrect brutal killers. A new friendship with a famous young film star develops realistically, and Zack and other benevolent ghost hunters are soon on the breathtaking case. Readers will race through terse sentences and demonically paced chapters to reach the satisfying, Indiana Jones-like and, yes, thought-provoking ending—and they'll be hanging on for the next installment."
—Kirkus Reviews

"The Hanging Hill Playhouse has a long, dark history as Zack soon discovers. The 11-year-old, who has the ability to see ghosts; his stepmother, Judy; and his dog arrive at the theater for rehearsals of Curiosity Cat, the musical Judy has written. They are unaware of anything sinister until a series of mysterious ghosts appears and strange things begin to happen. Zack and Meghan, a young actress, nose about while the "psycho" director loses himself in necromancy. An endearing element in the novel is the warm relationship between Zack and his stepmother. The plot is fast paced and there are numerous characters, especially toward the end, with frequent scene switches that demand a lot of readers' ability to visualize the goings-on. All in all, this successor to The Crossroads (Random, 2008) is a successful stand-alone. The story line is hauntingly delicious as the fully fleshed-out creepiness comes tempered with humor. It's a throwback to the kids' matinees of yore."
—School Library Journal, Robyn Gioia

"It's a Grand Guignol mix of humor and horror, and another winner for Grabenstein."
—Mystery Scene Magazine

"Does your favorite young reader love ghost stories? If they find it fun to scare their friends with stories of ghouls, and blood, and mad killers, Chris Grabenstein's second Zack and Judy adventure, The Hanging Hill, is the perfect book. The sequel to The Crossroads is even creepier than the first book. It's the perfect late-at-night or Halloween book for readers nine to twelve. Creepy, with some humor,The Hanging Hill, has a heroic young man, a terrific stepmother, and, Zack's dog, Zipper. Grabenstein combines horrible villains with ghosts and humor for a successful ghost story."
—Lesa Holstine, Lesa's Book Critiques

"The Hanging Hill isn't like other ghost stories where the living falls in love with the dead. This book is intense, fast-paced and scary (but not too scary to read before bed.) You won't be able to put it down."
—KidzWorld (read the full review)

"The Hanging Hill is another wonderful book by Chris Grabenstein. I like a little scary stuff mixed in with a good adventure story. Yes, there are ghosts in this book. Yes, there are some really nasty ghosts in the book, but none of them are major characters. Yes, there are a lot of good ghosts, too. Zack Jennings is the kind of main character that readers will instantly like. He is your normal, everyday kid who is lucky enough to see ghosts. Does he have any other super powers? No, unless you count being able to think quickly on his feet. Meghan McKenna was a nice addition to the cast and girl readers will really like her energy. Oh, and by the way, she can see ghosts too, although Derek cannot. And talk about ghosts! There are a ton of them living in the Hanging Hill Playhouse. Chris Grabenstein must have quite the imagination to come up with such a great concept as The Hanging Hill. The pace of the story is quick and the action builds and builds until it explodes all over the page, dripping its ectoplasm all over the reader. Yuck . . . but cool. Overall, The Hanging Hill is a perfect sequel to The Crossroads. Chris Grabenstein is proving himself to be the best new paranormal writer for young readers out there today. Watch out R.L. Stine . . . Chris Grabenstein is walking the astral plane, summoning all the ghouls, and creeping up behind you ready to steal away your crown to become King of the Paranormal. Boo! I rated this book a 9 out of 10."
—Conan Tigard, ReadingReview.com

"Grabenstein's writing blends the weird, hilarious and scary with the genuine emotions of a boy whose mom was mean and who now has a stepmom to love and protect. The short, punchy chapters make this good reading all the way through."
—June Weltman, author of "The Mystery of the Missing Candlestick"

"Grabenstein's writing blends the weird, hilarious and scary with the genuine emotions of a boy whose mom was mean and who now has a stepmom to love and protect. The short, punchy chapters make this good reading all the way through."
—June Weltman, The Florida Times Union