Something Wicked's in Those Woods

Marisa Montes, Author Harcourt Children's Books $17 (224p) ISBN 978-0-15-202391-1
First-time novelist Montes combines several staples of middle-grade fiction--orphans, immigrants and a ghost story. After the death of their parents, 11-year-old Javier and his five-year-old brother, Nico, must leave their home in Puerto Rico to live with their psychologist aunt in northern California. Nico seems to adjust with ease, helped along by an imaginary friend named Hamish. Javi has more trouble, particularly after he (to the dismay of his aunt) starts believing that Hamish is the ghost of a boy kidnapped and lost almost 70 years earlier, in 1932. Local girl Willo offers friendship, but tensions increase as strange things begin to happen--lights flicker; the TV plays even when unplugged; water faucets and sprinklers turn on by themselves. Is Hamish responsible for the disturbances? Is the ""evil one"" lurking in the woods to blame? Or could Javi's anger and frustration be the cause? Javi's adjustment is portrayed in convincing detail, but often at the expense of the mystery plot. While the slow pace may deter some readers, those who persevere will be rewarded with a spooky climax. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
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