cover image The Light on Hogback Hill

The Light on Hogback Hill

Cynthia C. DeFelice. Aladdin Paperbacks, $27 (128pp) ISBN 978-0-02-726453-1

Despite a tie-in to Halloween, an eerie setting and a creepy character or two, there's little suspense or mystery in this flimsy novel. Hadley and Josh, the new sixth grader at Possum Hollow School, goad each other into exploring Hogback Hill, purportedly the home of a hunchbacked old woman who turns trespassers into black cats. The so-called hag turns out to be sweet and timid, the victim first of a tragic accident and then of her ill-tempered brother, who has spent decades stoking her fears of the outside world. The plot seems especially contrived given DeFelice's ( Devil's Bridge ; Weasel ) skill in capturing the everyday--her portraits of Hadley and her single mother and of Josh and his cheerful family demonstrate perceptiveness and a talent for creating recognizable milieus. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)