The Curse on Spectacle Key

Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins/. Sept. 2022. 256p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780063134812.
Gr 4-7–Frank, an avid reader who loves horror stories, is extremely frustrated with the frequent transfers his family makes to accommodate his parents’ work as building renovators. When they tell the 11-year-old they acquired a new project, they promise that this move, to Spectacle Key, FL, will be the final one. No sooner does the family begin unpacking boxes in their new lighthouse home than things begin to go awry, from electrical malfunctions to crab infestations to a historical preservation group pressuring the family to leave. As tensions escalate at home, Frank escapes by exploring the island, only to encounter mounting evidence of a supernatural presence on the key. Aided by Connie, a young girl who may be a ghost, Frank realizes he must learn the history of his new home, and his family, to lift the curse before his parents give up and move away. This middle grade–friendly horror story features a Cuban American protagonist who has an extremely positive relationship with his family but is less competent at making friends, even with the not-quite-living. While the history Frank unearths is less than pleasant, he reminds the adults that people should not cover up the past just because it is ugly, and there is importance in remembering. Quirky secondary characters, including a mystic and a circus-acrobat librarian, enhance the narrative, as do Acevedo’s spin with horror tropes and sly wordplay.
VERDICT A solid purchase to enhance popular middle grade horror collections. The balance of humor and horror should attract readers, and the lessons Frank learns are relevant to all.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing