Curse of the Boggin by D.J. Machale
The Library Book 1
Enter the Library, where no one knows how the stories end . . . and finding out will be terrifying.
There’s a place beyond this world, beyond the land of the living, where ghosts go to write their unfinished stories—stories that ended too soon. It’s a place for unexplained phenomena: mysteries that have never been solved, spirits that have never been laid to rest. And there’s only one way in or out.
It’s called the Library, and you can get there with a special key. But beware! Don’t start a story you can’t finish. Because in this library, the stories you can’t finish just might finish you.
Marcus O’Mara is a 13 year old guy at a crossroads. He constantly finds himself in trouble at school, with his friends, and with his adoptive parents. Marcus doesn’t believe things can get any worse for him…until they get worse.
He begins seeing strange and impossible visions; gets thrown into paranormal danger and is haunted by a mysterious ghost with a singular goal: to give him a key.
It’s a key that opens the door to a mysterious library. When that door opens, the incredible adventure for Marcus and his friends begins as they learn the truth about Marcus’ past and uncover the strange world of unfinished stories that are found on the shelves of the Library.
Before I get to my review lets talk about kids and scary books. I am asked at least once a week for a ‘scary’ book by a student. I have been at this particular school for awhile now, so I know my students fairly well and I know how scary a book that student means. There are all levels of scary at this age level, but none approaching what I would call horror-movie level. Some are even funny scary if that makes sense. These books have things like zombies and ghosts but are told in humorous ways. Then I have a few that might just give you nightmares. It is very hard to gage how a student will react to a book’s scariness. Two different students will have different reactions to the same scary book. One will bring it back after a few chapters saying it is too scary and the other will say it wasn’t scary enough. Then of course you have to factor in how a parent might react to their child reading a scary book. It can sometimes be a very fine line to find the right scary book for a particular child. I imagine it is a fine line for the authors as well.
All that said, let’s talk about this particular scary book. I saw this in a bookstore about a month ago and initially picked it up because of the cover. I love this cover. It has a certain level of creepiness that will have kids wanting to read it. I then noticed that the author was D.J. MacHale. I read his Pendragon series many years ago and loved it, so was excited to see that he is writing for middle-grade and the fact that it is a series just upped my interest level. So naturally I snapped this puppy right up.
I was not disappointed. This book has the right level of scary and creepy that will appeal to all of my students who are looking for a scary book. I also like the fact that even though it will be a series, according to the author’s forward, after you are done with the first book, you don’t need to read the rest in any particular order. Which means the next books will be their own story, although the characters we meet here will be having them. I always have kids who don’t care about the order of series, which I don’t get and I’m constantly urging them to read them in order. I won’t have to in this case.
This book is told from the point of view of Marcus. He is a bright kid who stands up for what he believes is right, even if it gets him detention. He is in detention a lot. But I have to admire his bravery and fortitude even when he is telling off a bad teacher. He also is willing to go along with the things that happen to him, but with some trepidation. He is determined to find out who or what the supernatural beings he encounters are. He is also loyal to his two friends and is willing to protect them at all costs.
I also liked his two friends, Theo and Annabella Lu, Lu to her friends. Theo is African-American and very smart. It takes him the longest to accept everything that is happening and only when he sees it for himself. Lu is Chinese American also very smart but determined not to follow any stereo types people might impose on her. She supports Marcus even when she doesn’t believe everything he tells her about what is going on.
The Boggin is pretty scary, even when it manifests as a sweet old lady. It can make it’s target see almost anything and have them believe it is real. There are some scary moments for Marcus and his friends as it wields it’s scary powers on them. Defeating it is not easy as well. The usual things that are in the lore of supernatural creatures are used here, but done well and explained well also.
The plot is fast paced and keeps you guessing as to what will happen next. It was hard to put down, especially when there are cliff hangers at the end of a chapter. It kept me up at least one night wanting to know what happened next. Marcus gets himself in and out of sticky situations, but once he figures out that many of the things he is seeing is because of the Boggin, he starts to figure out a way to stop it.
I really liked the Library in this story. It doesn’t contain stories in the sense of typical novels, but something unique. I also really liked the librarian. He will be an interesting character to get to know over the whole series. It will also be fun to see how the kids use the library in the future.
A great start to what will be a great series. According to the author’s website, he has at least three planned books with the second one Black Moon Rising coming out in October.