The Haunting

Delacorte. Sept. 2023. 384p. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9780593481516.
Gr 9 Up–It’s Saturday, October 23rd. Exactly one year since the start of a murder spree that changed Penny’s small town forever. Even though she’s been forbidden from talking to her ex-boyfriend, Nash, Penny can’t help but feel a pull towards him as the anniversary of his father’s deadly rampage approaches. Unsure of what to say, she writes and deletes text after text without sending one. But when she discovers the body of her classmate while shopping for a Halloween costume, everything changes. She finally connects with Nash as the entire town is gripped with fear and speculation runs rampant. As the body count begins to rise, it seems a copycat killer is on the loose. Penny keeps thinking she sees a figure in the same mask lurking nearby, but she doesn’t trust her own judgment as she loses sleep, her appetite, and trust in the people she thought she could rely on. Though the reasoning behind the murders is explained, the abrupt ending lacks any sort of reckoning with the traumatic events of the preceding days. While some readers may not mind, others might be left feeling unsatisfied. Penny’s friend Zayn is described as having dark skin and an Afro, Omar is described as Muslim with dark eyes, and Nash and Grace are described as having their mother’s darker skin tone.
VERDICT A secondary purchase for libraries where mysteries are in high demand.

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