**** Excellent.

The main character is a boy, but a strong girl character is with him throughout most of the book.

About 100 pages.

Peter Swift’s Fright Files:

The Broken Thing

by Peter Swift

In short: Stevie likes horror movies and books…but when he discovers a real haunted house and a real haunting, he chickens out and has to be dragged into finding out more by his best friend, Angie.  What they discover is a threat to their lives and the ones they love.

Stevie, a big horror movie and book fan, is also the victim of bullies in Nohope, Vermont.  The bullies chase him into some woods that are supposed to be, if not haunted, then at least too creepy to be running around in.  While there, Stevie finds a broken doll-thing that almost seems to move in his hand–the doll is later stolen by the bullies.  Soon afterwards, Stevie’s mom gets into a car crash (she doesn’t die) trying to avoid a ghostly, broken-looking girl in the middle of the road…a girl who wants to get back something that was stolen.

Stevie and his best friend Angie, another horror fan, find out that the ghost used to be a girl who lived at a house just past the creepy woods…a girl who supposedly murdered her whole family, then killed herself.  Stevie’s teacher doesn’t believe in ghost stories (but likes local legends), yet recommends they talk to his dad, who has a different, even scarier opinion of the old house…

Okay, admittedly, with Goosebumps, sometimes you just have to laugh.  Some of the situations that people get into are just too funny, especially when compared with adult horror movies.  The Broken Thing, however much it may go in the Goosebumbs category, provides a few more chills than that.  What makes the thrills just slightly annoying is that there are so many cliffhangers that lead to fake-outs–it wasn’t the monster sneaking up on them, it was only his sister! kind of things.  But that’s a minor quibble.  The characters were fun, the action exciting, and the slow parts tinged with creepiness.  A couple of silly moments…but sometimes you just have to have a little cheese with your screams.

Book Description (from the author’s website):

Stevie Barton loves a scary story, until he finds himself living one! Two days before Halloween in Newhope Nohope, Vermont, Stevie discovers a mysterious antique toy sitting in the spooky forest the townspeople call The Grove. He pockets the abandoned toy, but a local bully drives him deeper into the dark forest. Soon, Stevie learns that the bully is the least of his worries. Something evil slept in those dark woods, and he woke it. Now the evil is after him! Along with his best friend Angie Lewis, Stevie must find and stop the horror before it finds him.

About the Author (from the author’s website):

What’s not to love about telling scary stories?  I work with kids, and I love writing horror and mysteries for them.  There’s a freshness and acceptance of the unknown that dulls in adulthood. That which adults too readily dismiss as implausible will run icy fingers along a child’s spine and send their imaginations off the deep end. That’s what it’s all about.

Download the book (for free) at the author’s website or Smashwords.