The Black Slide

­HarperCollins. Aug. 2022. 272p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062990556.
Gr 5 Up–A creepy horror novel that fans of Stranger Things will gravitate toward. When a large black slide suddenly appears on the playground just outside his fifth grade classroom window, Griffin Birch cannot stop staring out at it. Griffin wants nothing to do with the terrifying slide as his classmates start disappearing down it and no one seems to notice. Despite his fear, he follows his friend Laila down through the tube, and, instead off emerging on the playground, they land in a plane called the Painful Place. There, children are experimented on by white, chalky, metal-studded creatures. One of the scariest aspects is how the children in the Painful Place seem to succumb and accept the torture as inescapable. While the pacing occasionally drags, the author builds a vivid universe. Griffin and Laila’s friendship is well developed, although there are flat secondary characters. This title may need a trigger warning for some, as Griffin goes through an experience that abruptly makes him relive being physically and psychologically abused by a parent.
VERDICT A good choice for libraries where readers are moving on from “Goosebumps” and are in search of something to bridge the gap to YA horror.

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